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Government commits to N5 and Knock Airport


Edwin McGreal

A number of Mayo projects are listed for potential funding in Project Ireland 2040.
Consisting of two reports – the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan (NDP) – Project Ireland 2040 was announced by the Cabinet at IT Sligo on Friday last.
Chief among the Mayo projects included in the €116 billion NDP is the N5 Turlough to Westport road, a development already well under way.
The report also speaks of ‘substantially delivering the Atlantic Corridor’ as a ‘particular priority’. This is a high quality road network linking Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo, which, from a Mayo perspective, might lead to improvement of the N17 between Tuam and Sligo.
The NDP also hints at the possibility of extending the Western Rail Corridor from Athenry to Claremorris as part of this Atlantic Corridor, though there is no mention of the Western Rail Corridor north of Claremorris.
The development has been welcomed by Colmán Ó Raghallaigh of West on Track. “Linking Westport, Ballina, Castlebar, Claremorris and Tuam by rail to Galway would have an enormous impact. It would also enable direct rail travel to and from Limerick and Cork offering tourists proper access to the west and north-west for the first time,” he said.
There will be concern in Ballina that the only mention of the long-awaited N26 is referencing ‘targeted improvements to address bottlenecks and enhance safety’.
There are plans to also improve the N59 from Westport/Newport to Mulranny along with the improvement of the N5 from Ballaghaderreen to Scramogue, outside Strokestown.
With regard to Ireland West Airport Knock, it is one of four airports initially singled out for investment but on further reading, it is apparent Knock is still considered a ‘smaller regional airport’, along with Waterford, Kerry and Donegal, though at the top of those four.
Such commitments were welcomed by Joe Kennedy, Chairman of the airport.
Mr Kennedy, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement … In particular we acknowledge the continued Exchequer support that is planned under the Regional Airport’s Programme for the overlay of the main runway and an apron safety extension as outlined in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 ...
“We also wish to acknowledge Government’s recognition of the airport as one of the four main airports’ in the country and its position as a critical driver of economic and tourism development for the West and North West of Ireland. In addition to this the airport’s designation as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) last year has also been highlighted as critical to the long-term development of the airport and the regional economy in the National Development Plan.”
Also listed in the NDP, under supports for the Gaeltacht, is the completion of Ionad na hEachléime on the Mullet peninsula.
Reacting to the plan, Ballina-based Fianna Fáil spokesperson on public expenditure and reform, Dara Calleary said it was a case of repackaging previous schemes and funding commitments.
“Today’s launch is nothing more than a major marketing campaign,” he said. “[It] looks good on paper, but the real test is in the delivery,” he said.
However, his Mayo constituency counterpart, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has welcomed the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which he said is a game changer for rural Ireland and is additional investment, not repackaged funding.
“Let me make it clear that the Rural Regeneration fund represents €1 billion in additional Government investment in our rural towns, villages and outlying rural areas to be administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development.”

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