THE lack of funding being afforded to the N71 has led one councillor to describe the main route into West Cork as like ‘driving into Damascus’.
At a meeting of Cork County Council last week, councillors expressed their disappointment with a reply from Minister for Transport Shane Ross regarding a Council-backed letter calling for the reclassification of the N71 to National Primary Road status.
The reply stated that ‘the reclassification of the N71 will be considered as part of this process that is currently on-going’.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) said she was disappointed with the ‘vagueness’ of the reply from Minister Ross.
‘Considering the number of accidents on this route, the reply is disappointing and I just hope that visitors driving into West Cork don’t think they’re driving into Damascus,’ said Cllr McCarthy, who also said the Council should write back to the Department.
Her fellow Sinn Féin colleague, Cllr Paul Hayes, also noted the vagueness of the reply and pointed out there was no timeline given for any consideration of the reclassification of the route.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) agreed that the Council should write back and ask exactly what the process is in relation to reclassification.
‘The derisory tone of the letter should also be commented on, too. The N71 is grossly underfunded and it needs to be upgraded and we urgently need this in West Cork,’ said Cllr Coughlan. Another councillor pointed out that reclassifying the route isn’t an issue and that it’s more a case that there is no funding going into this secondary route. He pointed out that the Department is ignoring the route to West Cork ‘full stop’.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the N71 is in need of a huge upgrade and said it is one link that must get priority. Chief executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey said that the Council does not have a direct input into the periodic reviews of routes, which is the responsibility of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
However, County Mayor Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) said the Council would write back to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and tell them that it’s a funding issue and not just a classification one.