'Kerry snail' is causing traffic jams and costing us jobs, Healy-Rae tells the Dáil
Environmentalists' claims about "a Kerry snail" have contributed to a huge delay in providing a new highway between Kerry and Cork, the Dáil has been told.
Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said the planned bypass for Macroom and Ballyvourney on the N22, the main road link between Cork and Kerry, had been delayed far too long.
The Kilgarvan-based TD said people from places like Fenit, Dingle and Cahirciveen were delayed by as much as 45 minutes going through Macroom on their way to Cork city. He said many of these were going for medical treatment in Cork and that Kerry suffered a lack of job creation due to the delays.
Mr Healy-Rae cited the example of the Kerry Group setting up its research facility near Newbridge, Co Kildare. It had been hoped this would be in Farranfore, Co Kerry, and could have brought a huge economic boost with 900 jobs.
The Independent TD said the bypass project had been sought for 30 years and was seriously on the agenda for the past 20 years.
"However, it has been held up by environmentalists and others, who thought up ridiculous reasons like snails and other species," he said.
"And to rub salt into our wounds, they described him as 'the Kerry snail'. I wonder did they put a Kerry jersey on him. "Or how did they know he was a Kerry snail?" he asked indignantly.
Replying for the Government, Education Minister Richard Bruton said good progress was now being made on the road's planning and approaches were being made to land owners on the planned route. "I understand land acquisition is under way," the minister said.
Mr Bruton added that in his previous job as Enterprise Minister he had been keen to develop the south-west. He said the Cork-Kerry route would bring huge benefits to the region.
Under renewed pressure from Mr Healy-Rae, Mr Bruton could not guarantee work on the bypass would begin next year. But he said increased road investment of some €6bn was a positive sign and the project was being given priority on the road-building plans.
Mr Bruton also said he had been involved in the Kerry Group Kildare project and did not think the Macroom bypass was a factor.
He said the Kildare location was based on availability of skilled workers.