WHERE TO NOW? Part of the Clew Bay Greenway between Bertra and Murrisk under construction in 2018. However news that funding has been pulled for the project means it is facing an uncertain future.
Council management accused of failing to take responsibility for Greenway funding debacle
Senior management in the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District have been accused of failing to take responsibility for losing government funding for vital tourism projects.
Westport-based councillor Peter Flynn made the accusation against Director of Services Catherine McConnell after she told councillors that she and her team in the municipal district were not responsible for the delivery of tourism capital projects, such as the Clew Bay Greenway.
In a story broken in The Mayo News, it recently emerged that Mayo County Council must send back €1.2 million in government funding for a number of coastal greenway projects that it said were completed, but in fact were not – they either had no clear timeline for conclusion or had not even been started.
During last week’s meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Cllr Flynn said the Council had failed miserably in the delivery of greenway projects in the last ten years. He called for a special meeting to be held in January for an update from management on greenway projects in the district.
While agreeing to the meeting, Ms McConnell stated that she wished to clarify that her management team was not responsible for tourism projects. Responsibility for this, she said, fell on the shoulders of the tourism unit under the Director of Services for Community, Tourism and Enterprise, Joanne Grehan.
‘An utter mess’
CATHERINE McConnell’s comment angered Cllr Flynn, who accused her of failing to take responsibility for failures in delivering the tourism projects.
“The Greenway is very much under remit of yourself, so let’s take responsibility as councillors and executive for the delivery, and let’s stop pointing in other directions. That has got us where we are today. Everyone is pointing fingers but nobody is taking responsibility, and ultimately this municipal district has to take responsibility for projects in this municipal district, and not let a repeat of what happened in the past,” he said.
“It has become an utter mess because too many people are pointing fingers outside the fence, and it’s time we stood up and took responsibility.”
However, Ms McConnell denied blaming anyone, and reiterated her stance that she is not responsible for the delivery of the Greenway projects.
“I am not pointing fingers in any direction, I am simply clarifying, and my delegation orders do not give me authority over all that happens in a municipal district.
“The heads of function, and in this case the Director of Services for Community, Tourism and Enterprise has direct responsibility for the tourism unit, who are the delivery unit for capital projects for tourism. Not myself and not Padraig [Walsh, Head of Westport-Belmullet Municipal District].
“I just want that to be made clear. I am certain that the unit will be happy to provide an update as soon as they can, when they have an opportunity to liaise with the TII [Transport Infrastructure Ireland] on how they take that project forward,” she said.
Ms McConnell also stated that the report by Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, into the loss of funding for greenway projects will be available to councillors before Christmas.
The TII, which has responsibility for the country’s road network, has recently taken control of the delivery of the greenway network in Ireland. On Friday, the TII announced its budget allocation for 2022, which included €2.65 million for greenway projects in Mayo.
The largest amount of funding went to the extension of the Greenway from Achill Sound to Bunnacurry on Achill Island, which received €1.9 million. The Belclare to Murrisk section of the Clew Bay Trail received €500,000, while the Moy Cycle Bridge in Ballina was allocated €250,000.