‘Top-down approach for Dublin-Galway Greenway has been a failure’

The top-down approach for the Dublin-Galway Greenway which ignores the feelings of local landowners and local communities has been a failure, ICSA General Secretary, Eddie Punch, has said.

Punch was speaking yesterday following a meeting, organised by Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, between landowners and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan.

The meeting was scheduled to discuss a pathway forward for the Athlone to Galway portion of the National Cycle Network (the greenway).

Punch said that ICSA has had numerous meetings in Galway and Roscommon on this issue.

“What was presented to the Minister does not involve expensive consultant reports. In fact, using a consultative process where the solution includes more use of public lands and infrastructure will turn out to be a much lower cost solution.”

The delegation, which also included members of the Galway Cycling campaign group, argued for a complete rethink of the strategy for developing the cycle route.

ICSA Galway representative Adrian Kelly said that the group got a really good hearing and the Ministers have agreed the only way forward is to have a proper consultation process.

The case for an agreed route was made very strongly. The cycleway could include a mixture of secondary public roads and other public lands rather than just cutting across family farms.

“The group made a strong case for a consultative committee involving the local stakeholders and insisted that the threat of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) must be taken off the table. All of this was taken on board by the Ministers,” he said.

Work on parts of the Athlone to Galway section of the greenway stalled last year after farmers objected to the route going through their lands.

Speaking in November last year, Minister Ross said that he understands the problems for landowners and the fact that they feel threatened by the possibility of compulsory purchase orders.

“If I see an opportunity for ministerial intervention which would do some good, I will certainly act accordingly.

“In the meantime, the previous Minister put this project on pause and talks are hopefully going to go ahead which will resolve this problem.”