UPBEAT OUTLOOK Michael Ring, Minister for State at the Department of Tourism and Sport, was given his first lesson on the bagpipes by Des Cafferkey when attending Gaelscoil na Cruaiche last week where he unveiled the schools ‘per cent for art’ scheme.?Pic: Conor McKeown
Ring continues to lavish money on Mayo
Funding amounts to €48,000 per day since July 11
LAST week’s announcement of €1.78 million to further develop tourism infrastructure in Mayo brings to almost €5.2 million the amount of money Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Michael Ring has showered on his home county since July 11 last.
Of this latest investment, €830,000 is to link the highly utilised Westport Greenway to the existing coastal cycling and walking lane at Belclare. When completed, it will be possible to walk, run or cycle from Westport Town to Croagh Patrick on a dedicated, traffic-free path.
Funding of approximately €950,000 is also being provided under Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Capital Investment Programme to develop a linear route to connect Castlebar, via Islandeady, with the Westport Cycle Network and the Greenway, and also to establish a link onto the existing Castlebar walking loops. Eventually, Minister Ring hopes to have a comprehensive network of dedicated Greenways which will link many regions of Mayo, and it should soon be possible to travel by foot or on pedal-power from Castlebar to Westport or Croagh Patrick, and back down to Achill, via Newport and Mulranny, as most of this route is already fully functional.
Minister Ring was unrepentant when asked by The Mayo News if his generosity towards Mayo could be construed as favoritism by other counties where essential Government services are suffering due to a lack of funding.
“It is necessary infrastructure, we have been left behind in relation to our roads in Mayo and I will look towards rectifying that,” he said. “There is grant aid available for my county from my department and I am happy to allocate it, I have also announced funding for projects all over the country. People will say the money could be better spent nationally, but we have money that has to be spent this year and it aims to create employment and badly-needed facilities. We can’t just close down the country, we also need stimulus and projects such as the Greenway give that.”
Far from being alone in his kindness to Mayo, Minister Ring also revealed that he has some heavyweight support in his corner and often has to call for back-up.
“Every issue that I raise and grant aid on Enda [Kenny - An Taoiseach] has spoken to me about, we have big plans for the county and region and we are looking out for it. Enda has a lot to watch but we have a great working relationship and I needed his support to get some of these tranches of funding approved and he wasn’t found wanting for his home county and is as committed to Mayo as I am.”
Reverting back to The Greenway project, he revealed that none of it would be possible without the farmers that have co-operated so far, and everyone in Mayo County Council who has worked so hard to bring it all together.
“The most important part of this is that it is a continuation of the Greenway and in a week when there was a report that the west of Ireland is suffering in terms of tourism numbers we need projects like the Greenway to encourage people to come,” he added. “We have the hotels and amenities to keep them here in Mayo but we have to attract them in, we have to sell our product to them. Eventually, my plan is that that Greenway will radiate out towards the borders of the county in the directions of Leenane and Clifden, Sligo and Galway. The Greenway is one of the best infrastructure projects in Mayo for last 100 years and the world is starting to see that with new marketing campaigns abroad. I want to make the west of Ireland, and in particular Mayo, the walking and cycling capital of the world.”
Splashing the cash – Where it all went
€97,150 - Ballina cycle lanes
€28,000 - Castlebar Train Station upgrade
€200,000 - Killala Coast Guard new boat
€359,550 - Westport Leisure Centre
€424,207 - Connaught Rugby grant (province-wide benefit)
€200,000 - Achill Coast Guard new boat
€620,000 - Bohola/Kiltimagh road improvements
€82,000 - Mayo County Council for extreme weather preparation
€82,800 - Balla games area, €68,248 - Ballina games area,
€103,995 - Castlebar games area, €85,000 - Westport Greenway,
€106,925 - Polranny games area, €70,009 - Westport Leisure Park,
€155,000 - Pinewoods to Westport Town Greenway,
€85,872 - Ballinrobe sporting projects, €75,142 - Westport sporting projects.
€90,000 - Smarter Travel Projects in Mayo
€366,700 - Ballina Swimming Pool,
€100,000 - Smart Travel Scheme in Mayo
€1.78M - Tourism infrastructure (Greenway)