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Green senator blasts Galway councillors over unspent cycling and walking budget


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Green senator blasts Galway councillors over unspent cycling and walking budget

From the Galway City Tribune – Councillors are not doing enough to advance cycling and walking infrastructure in Galway City, according to a local senator.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly this week blasted her former colleagues on Galway City Council for failing to back new infrastructure as it was revealed that the local authority had used less than half its €11.8 million allocation for cycling and walking.

“According to figures released by the NTA, only €5,571,513 of this was spent,” said the Green Party senator.

“Councillors in Galway need to do better for our community. It is understandable that the significant increase in funding since 2019 requires increased capacity, and there have been many additional challenges for our local authorities during Covid.

“However, separate to this funding, additional funding has also been provided for new roles, dedicated to local walking and cycling projects and we need to start seeing faster progress,” said Senator O’Reilly.

The money and skills required to get on with the work of introducing more environmentally friendly methods of transport was in place, she continued.

“We need action. I’m asking the public to call on your local councillors, across every party, to demand safer paths and cycleways outside your homes, your schools, your places of work, to create a safer and more liveable community.

“It’s time to put people first. I know many are already doing this. Public representatives need to step up to the mark,” said Senator O’Reilly.

Her remarks drew the ire of Fianna Fáil City Councillor Alan Cheevers who said Senator O’Reilly’s criticism was wrongly directed at councillors.

“I totally refute any suggestion that it is councillors’ fault this money has not been spent. It is up to the Council Executive to bring plans before us to debate and vote on – councillors can’t design and deliver cycleways,” said Cllr Cheevers.

“Council engineers need to bring plans before us that work for everyone – for the community, for residents and for businesses in every part of Galway.

“I know some people would say we should disregard businesses and local residents’ wishes, but they are the people who live in the city and the businesses pay their rates and give employment to people; they have to be considered,” he continued.

Councillors would be more than supportive of any workable projects that were brought before them, but they had to come from engineers in City Hall, said the City East councillor.

However, he said some plans were progressing, particularly on the east side of the city where the construction of improved cycle lanes and footpaths was due to get underway in Roscam, Doughiska, the Ballybane Road and the Castlepark Road.

“All the focus seems to be on Salthill and it will be addressed when a proper plan is drawn up. We need to see a good proposal and it is up to the engineers to come forward with that proposal so we can debate it and vote on it,” he said.

(Photo: Senator Pauline O’Reilly)

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, August 26, 2022. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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