BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
A COUNCILLOR has asked whether the Healy Raes need to be bought into West Cork to get any progress on improvements to the N71.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) was reacting to a recent report following a meeting between officials from Cork County Council and officials from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) over funding for roads.
‘Money should come from the motor tax paid in Cork county and people are entitled to good surfaces. We are embarrassed to hear of the good surfaces in nearby Kerry. Would we want to get the Healy Rae’s here?’ mused Cllr Carroll.
‘It’s insulting and we want the N71 to get the same attention as the roads in Kerry,’
Councillors expressed disappointment at the report, which once again left little scope for realignment works on the N71 between Bandon and Skibbereen. Council officials emphasised the role of the N71 as the gateway to West Cork and its importance to the economic development and tourism in West Cork. While TII officials acknowledged the Council submission on upgrading the route, they did say that a number of Minor Improvement Schemes would be advanced in 2017 including the N71 Owenahincha to Newmills stretch.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said it is very frustrating with the answers from the report and said ‘we are being hamstrung by TII.’
‘The TII and local authorities are equal partners, but the vagueness of this report shows disrespect to the council. It’s not good enough, especially when we are talking about economic development.
‘The only positive aspect is there are plans for road resurfacing programme in Leap. Road tax should be invested in our roads instead of paying big bonuses for those in Irish Water,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the Bantry Relief Road is an important piece of infrastructure for the town and it badly needs it and she also pointed out that a national road goes through the town, which is being damaged on a daily basis. Cllr Hegarty also said that signage for the roads should be coming from the TII budget.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said the response from TII is always the same: ‘What’s the point as it’s always the same answer? I long for a day when they respond positively because it’s extremely frustrating,’ he said.
‘In relation to the TII’s policy on signage, we need to plough ahead and get these signs to send people to West Cork and not Kerry.’
Chief executive Tim Lucey agreed that the council needs to develop its own signage policy and said that the council would work with the TII on that. TII did inform county officials that ‘money is extremely tight; particularly for the next few years and that any political lobbying that the council can do to improve the situation would be welcome.’