THERE was no political pussyfooting when Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Dara Calleary and Minister of State Michael Ring bared their knuckles yesterday over the delivery of monies to the county. And The Mayo News took a right hook too over its report last week (Ring continues to lavish money on Mayo, p 4) confirming that the Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport has delivered €5.2 million to his home county since July 11 last.
“Obviously I welcome any investment in the county but last week’s Mayo News article gives the impression that the taps were only turned on last July. In the article both the Taoiseach and Michael Ring are given credit for the Greenway. The last Government allocated the funding for the Newport to Mulranny and the Mulranny to Achill sections of the Greenway,” Dara Calleary TD, a former Junior Minister, said yesterday.
Criticising The Mayo News, he observed that during his time in government he had never seen such a favourable article about Fianna Fáil delivery to the county. The article detailed the amount of monies Minister Ring brought to the county between July 11 and October 27. The funding tranches cover a wide range of projects all over the county including cycles lanes, games areas, coast guard facilities, Smarter Travel and tourism infrastructure.
Deputy Calleary said: “In my own the Electoral Area of Ballina alone, over the four years I was in Government, there was €50 million spent on water, roads and schools. I think it is time the media in the county held this government to account and that the four government representatives start walking the walk. Where are we on job creation and on roadworks, particularly the N5 and N26, since they came into power.”
He also cited a report, commissioned while he was in office, which he claims has been on Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton’s desk since he was appointed. The report is about industrial development at Knock Airport and, says Calleary, was ready to go to Cabinet before the Fianna Fáil government fell last February.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Minister Michael Ring pulled no punches about Dara Calleary’s remarks: “Any monies I claimed I delivered came on-stream since I came to office. It is bad enough that the Dublin media is giving-out about the money I have brought to Mayo without one of our own joining the bandwagon.
“Deputy Calleary would need to get his facts right. In last week’s article there was no mention of monies that were allocated before we came into government,” he said.
When asked about the report, cited by Deputy Calleary, regarding industrial development at Knock Airport, Minister Ring said he was not aware of it.
“However, I have been working very closely with the board of the airport and have already brought a new German carrier to the airport and am working on attracting other carriers,”
In an Evening Herald report last week a Fianna Fáil Dublin City Councillor, Jim O’Callaghan accused Ring of favouring his own constituency and short-changing Dublin.
Mr O’Callaghan said: “Although we were told the age of cronyism was dead, it appears that the only rational explanation for the people of Dublin being treated so unfairly is that the Taoiseach and his Minister for Sport, both Mayo men, are more concerned about looking after their own back yard rather than sharing limited State resources in a fair fashion.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Cllr Thérèse Ruane, who has championed Smarter Travel projects in the county town, Castlebar, has welcomed the funding but praised the groundwork done at local level.
“Of course these monies are very welcome. When you look at the west of Ireland there has been a massive infrastructure deficit in comparison to other regions, so any delivery of funding is just balancing that. Organisations like Smarter Travel Castlebar and the Sustainable Travel Officer in Mayo County Council must be acknowledged for making substantial and complex submissions for funding. All these grants have been delivered because of these proposals and the consultative process.”
However, she warned: “I hope that Minister Ring supports the extension of the Greenway to the National Museum of Country Life at Turlough Park. There should be equitable funding throughout the county and not just for the tourism haven of Westport.”