Euro candidates show support for Greenway project
THREE Euro election candidates have declared support for the Sligo-Mayo Greenway Campaign.
Mairead McGuinness, leader of Fine Gael in Europe, Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins and Independent Luke Ming Flanagan are backing the plan.
The candidates were responding to an email survey conducted by the Sligo-Mayo Greenway campaign group.
While welcoming their support, spokesman Brendan Quinn has expressed disappointment that MEPs, Pat The Cope Gallagher, Jim Higgins and Marian Harkin had collectively issued a statement opposing any use for the route, other than rail.
Mr Quinn said: "Mairead McGuinness, Lorraine Higgins and Luke Ming Flanagan all support the view that the establishment of a Greenway on the Claremorris-Collooney route would protect it for future generations and would create job opportunities now.
"All three have categorically stated they are not against a rail option, but see the Greenway proposal as the most practical and pragmatic solution to the need to protect a State-owned asset."
Lorraine Higgins said: "A greenway along the rail line between Collooney and Claremorris had the potential to revitalise rural economies.
"We have seen the fantastic success of the Greenway in West Mayo.
"There is now a real opportunity in Mayo-Sligo to develop the abandoned railway line from Collooney-Claremorris and to harness the economic and tourism potential from such a facility for the benefit of the wider community.
"This area across Mayo and Sligo has been severely blighted by the recession.
"It has felt the impact of emigration and long-term unemployment.
"We have to find a new vision in these areas which are finding it hard to recover and it is critical that we support projects such as these.
"The reality is that no new railway development is expected to take place in Ireland in the years ahead.
"Therefore, I will be calling on the local authorities and Irish Rail to sit down and agree the best way forward for the Sligo Mayo Greenway.
"If elected I will be fully committed to this project and to accessing whatever funds I can from Brussels to deliver on this."