We need a ‘decent road for decent people’

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A public meeting held in Peacocke’s, Maam Cross, last week was the latest step in a multi-platform campaign throughout the community to demand improvements to the N59.

The Connemara N59 Action Group has also launched a petition in recent weeks, calling on local people and visitors to add their names to the campaign for an adequate road linking Galway city and Clifden.

The actions follow this summer’s decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject plans for a proposed upgrade to sections of the road on environmental grounds.

Speaking after the meeting on August 11, organiser Councillor Tom Healy called on the people of Connemara to ‘rise as one and be heard in Dublin and beyond’.

Cllr Healy said: ‘Tonight’s meeting showed that there is a vast groundswell of support [for this issue]. People from every corner of Connemara turned out to show their desire to have a safe, modern N59 to serve their needs as equal citizens in Ireland.

‘Public representatives from most parties and Independents were in attendance, and there was unanimity in purpose.

‘Following on from this public meeting, we will all be calling on all people to show support for the Connemara N59 action group, and to participate in helping the group collect its petitions, as well as pressuring the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and other authorities to progress with the Maam Cross to Oughterard section without further delay.

‘Other actions agreed will be meetings between Oireachtas representatives and An Bord Pleanála, as well as NPWS and Galway County Council.’

The councillor said that providing a basic level of infrastructure was vital if Connemara is to reverse its pattern of population loss in the future.

He also stated that the area has a population equalling that of Co Leitrim, but does not have the same level of infrastructural support.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said: ‘I will be urging that we build on the work I have been doing on this project for 10 years since I got it included in Transport 21 and prioritised for planning and construction as the Inter Urban Routes were finished.

‘I will be pressing that the County Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs (NPWS section) come to agreements about the two sections of road and that Transport Infrastructure Ireland commit the funds to the road.

‘This road is of vital importance to Connemara and I am delighted that other parties and individuals in Connemara are coming in behind the project now.’