Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 December 2018

11:10 am

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Once again the acoustics in the House are not great so I did not hear what the Senator said, but I do not need to.

I welcome the application made to the greenways fund by Fingal County Council, Louth County Council and Meath County Council. My colleagues, Councillor O'Leary and Councillor Sharon Tolan, have been engaged with this. The application will link up Newgrange, a magnificent 5,200 year old Neolithic passage tomb, with the Boyne Valley, including Knowth and Dowth and other passage tombs. It will continue down through Oldbridge to the site of the Battle of the Boyne. It will go on to Mornington over to Bremore Castle in Balbriggan, which has the capacity to accommodate six times the number of people accommodated in Bunratty Castle for banquets. A total of 350,000 people pass through Bunratty Castle each year, so the potential is extraordinary. All of this is linked by rail to Newbridge House in Donabate. The proposed greenway passes though Ardgillan Castle and on to Skerries with its windmills and restaurants.

This is a no-brainer. It is a magnificent opportunity to create an irresistible tourism offering. Given my role as spokesman for the Government on business and enterprise, I see this as a critical undertaking in terms of Brexit-proofing our tourism industry. We know that we are not getting as many visitors from the UK. We know that the tourism industry will face challenges. This is a way of attracting an already established large group, namely, the substantial number of people aged between 60 and 80 years. They are healthy and have disposable wealth, are looking for offerings that can promote their health and want to enjoy safe walking and cycling. That is what this greenway would be. This proposed greenway is a wonderful opportunity for families from Dublin to engage. It is also a wonderful opportunity for the Dublin Airport Authority, which brought in 30 million visitors last year. The DAA could direct visitors to spend a half-day that is free before they head off down the country elsewhere. It is a no-brainer at many different levels.

Will the Leader have the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to the House come to the House as well as the Minister for Finance? I have called for this before and I reiterate that call now. I am demanding that we put at least €200 million into a national greenway grid over the coming five years. This will allow us to release the potential of our fantastic historical sites, beaches and greenways throughout the country. It will serve for the betterment not only of our tourism industry but also for the health and well-being of our people. Moreover, it will enable families to cycle in safety together.


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