A PETITION for a greenway along the disused rail line from Athenry to Collooney, running through Mayo, has hit over 4,000 signatures.
The Western Rail Trail Campaign – a collection of community-based campaign groups in Galway, Mayo and Sligo which are campaigning to preserve the alignment of the closed rail line by utilising the route for tourism and leisure as a greenway until such time as a railway may be possible - has welcomed the fact that a petition on website change.org has hit over 4,000 signatures.
“With the reports in national media that the closed railway from Athenry to Sligo is no longer on the agenda, the support for this petition is really good news for the Western Rail Trail in the week the National Development Plan is going to be launched,” said spokesperson Brendan Quinn of the Western Rail Trail campaign. “It shows there is a widely supported cost-effective alternative for the closed railway, that is both affordable, achievable and will be popular.
“We hope the government will finally listen to the alternative view from the west of Ireland. It has to be accepted that the railway is not going to be rebuilt and the greenway alternative for the route, which will protect this vital state asset, is now the way to go and is supported by thousands of people in the west of Ireland.”
He commented: “4,000 signatures is a lot of people. What is so pleasing is that the majority of people signing this petition live in the three counties which will benefit from the tourism jobs the Western Rail Trail will bring.”
Over 1,200 people from Co. Galway have signed the petition, about 700 from Mayo and over 500 from Sligo. In total over 90% of all signatures on the petition are from people living in Ireland, with 10% coming from international supporters many with Irish connections.
The petition, which is directed at Minister for Transport Shane Ross, asks a simple question of the minister: To support the creation of a walking and cycling greenway on the closed railway from Sligo to Athenry.
“The good news is that each signature results in an email to the Minister of Transport and Minister of Finance so the cabinet is fully aware of public opinion on this matter,” said Quinn.