MINISTER Michael Ring has dismissed suggestions that a €241m road project for Mayo was a parish-pump-style announcement ahead of an election saying: "You don’t mind development in rural Ireland do you?"
Mr Ring defended plans for the upgrade for the Westport-to-Castlebar, saying there have been many projects in Dublin and elsewhere and Mayo had been waiting 25 years for the road.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Transport Minister Shane Ross were on hand for the announcement, which came after the Cabinet signed off on the project today.
Local TD and Minister for Rural Development, Mr Ring posted a video on his Twitter account hailing the announcement as "the biggest single investment that has ever been put into Co Mayo."
Filmed on the side of the road - where he was competing with the noise of passing cars - Mr Ring said the new road would relieve traffic congestion into Westport.
In the video he says: "I have worked hard for the last 20 years to get this investment, to get this dual carriageway done.
"The plans include more than 20km of dual carriageway."
Big news! Cabinet has approved €241M for construction of new N5 Westport to Turlough Road.— Michael Ring (@MichaelRingFG) October 15, 2019
Will be the single largest ever Govt investment in Mayo & will have transformative effect on the county.
20.3 km of dual carriageway from Westport to Turlough & 2.5 km link to the N59. pic.twitter.com/px5jJxZJiy
Mr Ring defended the project at a press conference this afternoon. He said: "There’s many, many projects have been done in Dublin and many other parts of the country and we’ve been waiting for this for 25 years.
"It’s fantastic for the county, it’s fantastic for Westport."
He told reporters: "Every single one of you at some stage in your life have been to Westport for the weekend or for a stag party or for your holidays.
"It’s a beautiful place to go and don’t we need a road into it?" he said.
Mr Ross said the upgrade would improve road safety in the area.
He said: "An announcement anywhere in Ireland would be parish pump for someone.
"This is a rural announcement. I’m absolutely delighted that we made such a significant announcement in rural Ireland.
"It’s certainly not parish pump for me. It’s very important to me actually."
Amid speculation that Mr Varadkar was contemplating a snap election if there was a Brexit deal, the Taoiseach said the Government made infrastructure announcements "all the time".
"Politicians like to announce good things. It doesn’t need to be an electoral time-table," he said.
He said the road was an "important element" of the Government's Project Ireland 2040 initiative.