Councillors divided over Western Rail Corridor proposals

Part of the existing Western Rail Corridor.

Fine Gael’s local reps across the county are split down the middle over the provision of a greenway along the old Western Rail Corridor.

At least seven councillors are against it and five are in favour, while their Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon wants them to come out in support of a feasibility study on such a prospect.

The provision of a greenway along the rail corridor between Athenry and Tuam has been both emotive and fractious and has divided political parties locally.

It has been hotly debated on social media with those on opposing sites of the argument often getting exercised over the matter.

Galway East TD Sean Canney, who is an advocate of the reopening of the rail service between Sligo and Athenry, last week slammed both Deputy Cannon and Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) whom he described as being hypocrites.

He made the case that both TDs are resisting a rail review at local level and are supporting it as part of the National Development Plan. He said that they were talking out of “both sides of their mouths”.

This week he said that he was sorry to hear that Fine Gael across the county was in disarray but assured party officials that it had nothing to do with him. “Maybe they should start looking closer to home”, he said.

A motion is to come before Galway County Council on Monday week asking that the local authority seek funding for a feasibility study to be carried out on the provision of a greenway along the Western Rail Corridor.

Seasoned Fine Gael councillors such as Jimmy McClearn, Peter Feeney, Eileen Mannion and Tom McHugh are vehemently opposed to this, as are colleagues such as Frank Kearney, Mogie Maher and Niamh Byrne.

The likes of General Election hopefuls Pete Roche and Aidan Donohoe are firmly behind the feasibility study as are other FG councillors such as Joe Byrne, Mike Finnerty and Peter Keaveney.

“At the moment, we are split down the middle,” a senior FG party source told The Connacht Tribune and laid the blame firmly at the door of Minister Ciaran Cannon. “His social media contributions are not helpful”.

But Minister Cannon insists that there is growing support for the so-called Quiet Man Greenway between Athenry and Tuam which would pass through Ballyglunin Railway Station.

And he has now organised a mass rally for Tuam on Sunday week in advance of the Council meeting that will vote on the feasibility study.

He says that social media support to the extent of 8,000 was a reflection that it is being supported by younger generations.

“If those who argue against the project take the time to peruse the page (facebook), they will see that in one post, there is a collage of the business community in Tuam who support the greenway.

“They will find that the collage comprises of almost 100 images. All of these people are taxpayers, all of these people are voters and all of these people are publically aligning themselves with the project.

“I also find it difficult, therefore, to believe that public representatives can ignore such a movement and that is only in Tuam,” Minister Cannon said.

However, local councillors are firmly divided over the issue and will be voting on the motion according to their individual views.