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Balla Greenway officially opened

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CUTTING THE RIBBON  Pictured at the opening in Balla, from left: Cllr Ger Deere, Cllr Donna Sheridan, Donagh Gilmartin (Balla CRD), Minister Ring, Gerry O’Neill (SWMDC), Alan Dillon, Senator Michelle Mulhern, Lisa Chambers TD, Cllr Blackie Gavin and Jack Ryan (Balla Community Council).

Ger Flanagan

THE new Balla Greenway was officially opened last Saturday afternoon with Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, on hand to cut the tape.
The greenway is a communal initiative involving the local Community Resource Development, Community Council, Tidy Towns, Town Park, Balla GAA and Balla Golf Club. It connects the town to its surrounding park, looping back to the town.
Speaking in the Balla Community Resource Centre afterwards, Minister Ring announced €93,421 in funding which will go towards three full-time employees for the centre, beginning in 2020.
“This is a fantastic community and this is a fantastic town, and I say to the people that live in it, you should be thankful for the community spirit in it,” he said. “You have so many community groups all coming together.
“I have to compliment the landowners [who allowed their property to be used for the development] and I want to thank the volunteers of the country… for the great work they are doing in communities like this.
“Sometimes I get criticism in relation to my budget. Last year in my capital budget every single penny was spent…. Some people sent back €37 million and €38 million back to the State and didn’t spent it all and now they’re criticising me because I spent it all.
“Then I have the Journal[.ie] and journalists. Last week they were giving out about the Clár programme and about the money I spent in Mayo. The Clár programme was set up for depopulation and what is the most depopulated county in Ireland? Mayo — so why wouldn’t they get more than anyone else.”
Lisa Chambers TD, Senator Michelle Mulhern, a number of local councillors and upcoming general-election candidates and officials from Mayo County Council were present on the day for the opening.
The large turnout were brought on a tour of the greenway, where they were shown the work being carried out by the local committees, including the refurbished Blessed Well and the new Community Kitchen.
Parish Priest Fr Denis Carney performed an official blessing of the kitchen, which will be open to all local artisan food producers for hire.
Donagh Gilmartin of Balla Community Resource Development thanked community activists Pat Boyle and Jack Ryan for their efforts, as well as Ann Sweeney of Mayo County Council and the South West Mayo Development Company.
He said: “This was a public, private and community-based enterprise and we’re very proud of it.
“Anything we do we try and do it to the very best standard we can… Balla as a community is flourishing and the future is very bright. I want to sincerely thank everyone in their efforts towards it.”
Gerry O’Neill of the South West Mayo Development Company highlighted that the success of the community was no coincidence, but thanks to the hardwork and ‘corroboration of the people for the greater good’.