BY JACKIE KEOGH & KIERAN O'MAHONY
WEST Cork roads, particularly the N71, will be âconsidered very important' in the 2018 and 2019 budget allocations, according to the Minister for Transport.
When he was in Skibbereen on Tuesday, Shane Ross TD told The Southern Star that part of his reason for visiting was so that he could drive the N71 and âsee what it was like.'
He said: âI can see the real difficulties which are there. I have been talking to Michael Collins (Ind) TD, Declan Hurley (Ind), Margaret Murphy O'Mahony (FF) and lots of other people about it and I understand that the roads are in need of repair.
âNothing very much has been done in the recent past because of the constraint on our finances. There is hope now that in 2018 and 2019 we will have more money available for the roads and the roads here will be considered very important in that context.'
The minister declined to given an assurance that the N71 would be prioritised. He said: âI am certainly not going to say anything which would give a hostage to fortune, but let me just say I am well aware of the problem, having been here today, and driven the road myself.'
Meeting earlier with local councillors and TDs in Copper Grove in Bandon to discuss funding for roads, the Minister heard Deputy Michael Collins say it was âhard to promote West Cork as a place to do business due to the roads and the inability to pass out on the N71'.Â
Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony said West Cork needed a âbig injection of cash' to improve the road conditions on both the N71 and R586.
Issues over Irish Water delaying road surface projects, as well as poor response times â or none at all â from TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) were also raised by Sinn FÃ©in Cllrs Paul Hayes and Cllr Rachel McCarthy.
Minister Ross said he could not give any promises on funding, but would give the concerns âa sympathetic ear' as he could see the need in West Cork for better roads.
âObviously everything that you are looking for is something we would love to do, but we've got very finite resources â virtually all the money is committed,' said Minister Ross.