Thursday, 1 April 2021
Project Ireland 2040: Motion [Private Members]
Seán Canney (Galway East, Independent)
I compliment the Rural Independent Group on bringing forth this motion. It is a motion which is close to my heart in the west of Ireland. The national development plan and review of it will be instrumental in tackling the substantial challenges facing the regions. These challenges, if left unaddressed, will ensure inequality in the regions forever. The north and west region has been downgraded from a developed region to a region in transition. This is the only region in Ireland to have this status bestowed on it by the EU. The EU Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has categorised the region as a lagging region, which is a region of extremely low growth. The national development plan can reverse this trend, positively discriminating in favour of the north and west in terms of investment. It needs to provide additional capital investment which is aligned to the regional spatial and economic strategy set out by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. We need connectivity within the region and with other regions to allow freedom of movement and choice and this needs to be done in a sustainable way. A good example of this is the western rail corridor, which would link Ballina, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford. It would connect Galway, Foynes and Waterford ports in terms of international connectivity. As a first step, the national development plan needs to make provision for connectivity north from Athenry to Tuam and onto Claremorris under phases 2 and 3 of the western rail corridor.
Funding is also required to build the Claregalway bypass and to build out bus lanes and park and ride facilities to ease traffic congestion going into the city in Galway. If one listens to the traffic reports during normal times, most evenings one hears about traffic congestion in various locations. Claregalway is always mentioned in those reports. Thousands of workers from the east of the county, where I live, traverse the county, spending up to 20 hours per week in their cars, trying to get to work. This is unsustainable.
We also need housing. In that regard, we need to make sure we have proper infrastructure. Towns such as Craughwell, Corofin and Abbeyknockmoy, which are growth centres for Galway city, have no sewerage systems in place. Developers cannot get planning permission to build houses in this villages and towns yet there is much talk about the town and village renewal under the plan, Our Rural Future. We have got to get real. We need to give Irish Water specific funding to enable it to put in place the infrastructure to support the building of houses.
There is a lot more I could say but I will hand over to Deputy Verona Murphy.