Mayo Senator Lisa Chambers

Major political row festering over new Mayo to Sligo road bombshell

A POLITICAL row is festering between Fianna Fáil and the Green Party over the validity of Transport Minister Eamon Ryan's decision to suspend an investment of €600 million on the planned upgrading of the N17 roadway between Knock and Collooney.

Mayo FF Senator Lisa Chambers has highlighted the growing tensions by claiming the minister and his party are not empowered to overrule the National Development Plan (NDP).

The Castlebar-based representative, whose name is widely linked with her party's vacancy on the ticket for next year's European Parliament elections, said key projects in the NDP were committed to by the three parties in government - not just by Minister Ryan.

She elaborated: "Unfortunately, when he visited Sligo recently, the Minster for Transport took it upon himself to say that money would not be available for the project for a very long time.

"Having spoken to my party colleagues and the Minister of State at the department (Deputy Jack Chambers), I can clarify that it is not a decision that can be taken by any one minister.

"It is a government decision to fund and progress that project in the NDP.

"What the minister said has upset many communities who use the route, which connects Galway, Mayo and Sligo. It is very important road infrastructure.

"While we are all very supportive of public transport and getting people out of cars, we simply do not have alternative transport options in rural Ireland and will not have them for some time."

Senator Chambers said the reality is the stretch of road in question is treacherous.

She commented: "There are parts of that national route that have an 80 km speed limit because it is so treacherous. The road is long overdue an upgrade.

"That is a commitment in the NDP and is committed to by all parties in government."

Sligo County Council is seeking urgent talks with Mayo County Council in a bid to ensure the new roadway proceeds in the near future.