DEPUTY Michael Ring was Minister for fun in Westport last Friday, as he inspected and officially opened some of the new initiatives that have been completed through funding provided by his Department in the last year.
And never one to miss an opportunity to scoff at his detractors, Deputy Ring used the occasion to repeat a previous message to those saying he plays favourites with his Department’s funds.
“The Dublin media have criticised us but they can come down to Westport and see for themselves where the money has been spent, they can use these facilities too if they want,” he chuckled.
The McConville Park redevelopment was first to be visited by the entourage from Mayo County Council and Westport Town Council, with residents of the area also in attendance. Minister Ring explained that his own mother and grandmother were from that part of Westport, and that he was glad to be able to help out in their rejuvenation efforts.
“I am always glad to be home,” he said, “to a town where partnership exists between various organisations and community groups and works well to bring wonderful amenities like McConville Park to fruition for the betterment of the whole Westport community.”
Along with Westport Town Manager, Martin Keating, Minister Ring praised the diligent and hard working officials working for both Mayo County Council and Westport Town Council, who had brought the plans to fruition.
After a short stroll down to the new outdoor gym - adjacent to the skate-park - that forms part of the new amenity along the Westport Greenway, Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Cllr Christy Hyland, reminded all present that they were standing in what used to be a rough wasteland.
“Now look at what funding can do,” he said, pointing to the dozens of children that were playing in the warm spring sunshine, oblivious to the suited entourage that had just arrived.
Again, Deputy Ring and Martin Keating thanked all who had made the project possible, saying that the newest addition along the Greenway complimented the other facilities already in existence. Minister Ring also used the opportunity to thank the Browne family from Westport House for their huge contribution to tourism over many decades, and to formally congratulate Martin Keating on his recent appointment as Director of Services for the Westport Area. The local Tidy Towns Committee also came in for special praise, and it was stated that the Greenway Park would never have happened without their foresight and financial backing.
The final port of call was to Westport Leisure Park, where over €400,000 has been spent on improvement and enhancement works to modernise the facility and make it more efficient. Those in attendance heard from Paul Feeney, new manager of Westport Leisure Park, and from outgoing manager Dermot Langan, who now moves into a new role with Westport Town Council.
Westport Leisure Park uses over 8.5 million litres of water a year, and the cost of heating, lighting and air conditioning have all been addressed as part of the operations overhaul. Upgrades - including a new spinning room, treatment rooms and meeting rooms - have also been incorporated as part of the overhaul.
Earlier on Friday morning the group had attended at a wreath laying ceremony in memory of all who emigrated from The Quay and those who lost their lives on the Titanic, organised at Westport Quay by the Mayo Emigrants Liasion Committee.
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