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Swell of support for rail link


CONFERENCE CALL Senator Pauline O’Reilly (Green Party), Senator Lisa Chambers (Fianna Fáil) and Maria Heneghan, West on Track and Chairperson of meeting pictured at the conference. Both senators are on a regional committee in Leinster House advocating for the Western Rail Corridor extension to Claremorris.

Edwin McGreal


The majority of TDs and Senators in Leinster House are supporting the extension of the Western Rail Corridor to Claremorris.
This significant development was revealed by Galway East TD Seán Canney at a conference on regional development in Tuam on Saturday.
The Limerick to Sligo corridor was closed in 1977 and decades of campaigning has seen it reopened from Limerick to Athenry.
Deputy Canney (Ind) told the conference a submission advocating the extension of the railway from Athenry to Tuam and onto Claremorris and backed by a majority of TDs and Senators in Leinster House is to be handed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
“I’m delighted to say this morning that we have a submission that we will be making to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Transport and that submission is supported by the majority of members both in the Seanad and the Dáil and I think that’s a very important statement for the Government, for the permanent government to understand, that the political support is there to do it.
“What we are trying to do is to give the ammunition to Minister Eamon Ryan, to Micheál Martin, the Taoiseach, and also to the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, to actually push on and get the Western Rail Corridor up and running, Phase 2 [to Tuam] and Phase 3 [to Claremorris] initially, and we’re looking for them to be reactivated as opposed to any more reviews to be done. I do believe that the Government want to do this, as the Minister (Dara Calleary) stated, the Taoiseach said that himself in the Dáil last July in response to a question,” said Deputy Canney.
The Western Rail Corridor is currently being considered as part of the All Island Rail Review, the proposals from which are expected in the coming weeks.
The Belclare native has led what he described as an ‘adhoc committee’ of TDs and Senators ‘with a common goal to push the agenda that we have here in the west of Ireland’.
“I think that is our role as elected representatives, to make sure we work together in the region,” he said.

The conference, entitled ‘Achieving Regional Balance – A New Approach to Development Policy’, was attended by over 250 people with representatives from over 60 towns in the region. Deputy Canney said the cross party support was remarkable.
“I think what is awfully important as well is today we have a huge amount of Oireachtas members and local authority members from right across the region, from Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Clare, (Galway) and people who are really committed to regional development,” he said.
He also paid tribute to two Mayo clerics for their support of the Western Rail Corridor campaign over the years, former Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary and eminent Westport sociologist Fr Micheál Mac Gréil.
Dr Neary was present at the conference at Deputy Canney described him as a ‘great advocate for the west of Ireland’ while he also said he has learned a lot from Fr Mac Gréil, who has been campaigning for the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor since the 1970s.
“If you listened to that man for five minutes, he would infuse in you the ambition and the pride in the west of Ireland everybody who is ever representing us in public life should have and I think what we need to do is continue to work together to deliver everything we can.
“We should not be apologising for that and I would also say we should not try to compete with one another on projects. We should try and deliver every project because we’re entitled to as much here in the west of Ireland as they are in any other part of Europe or Ireland,” he said.