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Castlebar to Erris road should be a priority – candidates

News

ON THE RIGHT ROADThe current bridge over the Glenisland River on the R312 Castlebar to Belmullet road. Mayo County Council’s application for a new bridge was approved at the second time of asking. Candidates running in the election have said an upgrade of the R312 is a priority.

Edwin McGreal

The upgrade of the R312 Castlebar to Bellacorrick road should be a priority for the next Government.
That’s the cross-party consensus of all 15 candidates running in the General Election in Mayo about one of the main roads into Erris.
There has been a long-running campaign for upgrading the road with a well attended protest taking place last Saturday night in Castlebar before the Mayo and Dublin football game.
All candidates were asked about the project as part of an election survey by The Mayo News.
Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring said the approval for a new bridge in Glenisland, which was beset by planning delays, was a key step forward and said the R312 is the next priority road now that the N5 Castlebar to Westport road and Newport to Westport road have received funding.
“The Castlebar to Erris road is what we will be trying to get funding for [next]. Now that the bridge at Glenisland has got funding, we can look to progress from there,” he said.
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary described the upgrade as ‘crucial’.
“The people of Erris have had to travel a third class road for too long. I would target increased investment in a strategic regional road plan and ensure the R312 was a priority,” he said.
Erris-based Senator Rose Conway-Walsh (Sinn Féin) said the upgrade is long overdue.
“The people of Erris have been hood-winked for too long with decades of empty promises to upgrade the R312. Every election, every government we’ve been promised; yet we still have the main connecting road from Erris to Mayo University Hospital barely fit to travel on and deteriorating by the day,” she said.
Saoirse McHugh of the Green Party said the road is below the standard required.
“If we are serious about keeping people living in places like Erris and Achill then this must be reflected in spending, especially when the public transport options for these areas are so limited,” she said.
Fine Gael’s Senator Michelle Mulherin criticised the delay in approval for the bridge in Glenisland.
“This road is of strategic importance connecting Erris area with the county town and is totally substandard. I played my part in obtaining funding for a new bridge at Glenisland which also experienced delays and planning setbacks on account of an Special Area of Conservation and [the presence of the] freshwater pearl mussel. This is something I have been highlighting and challenging. There needs to be a better balance between the wildlife and the desirable socio-economic objectives of the people,” she said.
Independent candidate Gerry Loftus, who lives close to the R312 in Bofeenaun, said ‘it is a scandal the road is still in the poor condition it is’.
“It is the main road for the county into all of Erris, an area roughly the size of County Louth and the upgrading of it is long overdue,” he said.
Joe Daly of People Before Profit said the upgrade is ‘badly needed for the people of Belmullet’ who have been ‘completely ignored on this for years’.
Kamal Uddin of the Labour Party said it is ‘not a safe road for anyone to travel on’.
“I know how much the Belmullet people suffer on that road especially if you need an ambulance. People who have to drive it everyday are suffering and something needs to be upgraded urgently,” he said.
Independent candidate Stephen Manning said the money ‘should be available’ and ‘anything that would improve the quality of life of people here ought to be welcomed’.