BY BRIAN MOORE
WEST CORK has long been forgotten when it comes to funding for road improvements and repairs, according to Independent councillor Michael Collins.
Cllr Collins told a meeting of the Municipal District West Cork in Bantry this week that as far as he is concerned there must to be immediate funding made available for the much-needed repairs and upgrade of the N71 from Cork to Glengarriff via Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Ballydehob.
He called on Minister for Transport Pascal Donohoe to make funds available for what he called a ‘critical route’ for the people of West Cork.
‘The N71 has seen an increase in the numbers of vehicles using this road. It needs to be repaired, upgraded and maintained as a matter of urgency,’ Cllr Collins said.
Fellow independent Cllr Denis Hurley seconded the motion and added that he feels that industry in the region will suffer in the long run if the problems on the N71 are not addressed urgently.
‘We have seen recently that there is a massive difference between what the people of West Cork pay in road tax each year and the amount of funds allocated to road repair and maintenance in this region. Now with the removal of the quota system for the dairy farmers, we will see an increase in the numbers of trucks, tractors and other vehicles using the N71. The road must be made ready for this increase in industry and we must act now,’ Cllr Hurley said.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG), while supporting Cllr Collins and his motion to invite the Minister to meet with the Council, said that it had been confirmed to her that Minister Donohoe will be visiting the area at the end of March.
‘I agree that we must do all we can to improve the condition of the N71. While this road has been upgraded over the years, more certainly needs to be done now so that West Cork can be seen not only as a good place for the people who live and work here but also for the many tourists that visit the area every year,’ said Cllr Hegarty.
While there was unanimous support for Cllr Collins and his motion to meet with the Minister, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) was not confident that any meeting with the Minister would be successful, and he put the focus on the local Dail representatives.
‘This has been on the agenda for the last 10 years and very little has been done. While we as Council representatives for this area can and should bring this issue to the attention of the Minister, it is our elected Oireachtas members that should be fighting for these funds constantly,’ Cllr Carroll said.
Municipal District chairman Cllr Ger Pat Murphy (FF) instructed that an invite to meet with the councillors should be sent to the Minister immediately.
‘We should make it a priority to meet with Minister Donohoe when he is in West Cork at the end of April. The N71 is a vital route for people,’ Cllr Murphy said.