BY JACKIE KEOGH
THE decision to exclude the N71 from the 2015 national road grant allocation has provoked an angry response among the members of Cork County Council.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) told The Southern Star she was both incredulous and furious when the members of Cork County Council were told at their meeting on Monday that no money would be spent on West Cork’s national primary route, a route that has been the scene of numerous fatal accidents.
However, in a report for the councillors prepared by a County Council executive, under the heading ‘National Road Grant Allocations’ it is stated that while no allocation has been made for the N71, the design of the Owenahincha to Newmills realignment scheme has begun.
‘Further surveying is to be carried out shortly and hopefully the scheme may attract funding later this year,’ the report says.
But at Monday’s meeting, Cllr McCarthy asked: ‘How many more fatalities have to occur on this road before we will see action?’
‘Last July,’ she added, ‘the local Fine Gael TD, Jim Daly, made the point that the lack of funding was “coming at a terrible price” and he called on his own government to intervene.
‘But once again the N71 has been ignored. So it is time for us, the locally elected representatives, to put pressure on the three West Cork TDs to start doing their job.
‘It is time for them to stand up for the people who use the N71 before there is any further loss of life.’
The Sinn Féin councillor said: ‘It is a disgrace that West Cork has been overlooked. This funding is way overdue but we seem to have been forgotten by the powers that be.’
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan described the announcement as ‘an absolute scandal.’
In previous years, he said: ‘We have received at least some element of funding, but to be overlooked in a year when there have been fatalities on the road is a disgrace.’
Describing the N71 as ‘an inadequate national route’, Cllr O’Sullivan said it is also a major drawback when it comes to attracting inward investment, and it seriously undermines the extensive marketing campaign used to promote the Wild Atlantic Way.
Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) said the decision to cut the roads budget is ‘a huge bow for West Cork and rural Ireland generally but the decision to allocate no funding for works on the N71 is the biggest blow of all.’
The meeting came in the same week as an inquest was heard into the death of Zoe Scannell (8) who died in a crash on the N71 last year.