Wednesday 23 January 2019

Taoiseach was wrong to drop West from EU transport fund bid - Canney

Seán Canney. Photo: Tom Burke
Seán Canney. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was "wrong" to drop an application for European funding for roads and rail in the West when he was transport minister, Independent Alliance TD Seán Canney has said.

Mr Canney is seeking the implementation of the Programme for Government pledge to reinstate the application, but claimed this was facing "push-back" by officials in the Department of Transport.

His remarks come after it was reported Mr Varadkar intervened in 2011 to drop the Western Rail Corridor and other infrastructure projects from an application for funding under the Trans-European Transport Network (Ten-T) scheme.

Galway East TD Mr Canney last night said: "It was wrong to do what was done at the time and we need to correct it".

He said it was "imperative" a renewed application took place, citing the importance of developing the Atlantic Economic Corridor amid the threat of Brexit.

Mr Canney said he was not threatening to withdraw his support from the Fine Gael-led minority Government, despite delays in fulfilling the promise in programme for government and insisted there was an agreement that would be implemented.

A Government spokeswoman said that Ten-T funding only covered the minority of the cost of an infrastructure project.

She said that at the time of Mr Varadkar's decision the country did not have the resources to commit to the investment due to the economic crash.

Mr Varadkar had initiated the Gort to Tuam motorway, part of the Atlantic Road Corridor proposed under the government's Project Ireland 2040 initiative.

A Transport Department spokesperson denied that there had been push-back from officials.

A statement said issues being taking into account in making a T-Ten submission were Brexit and Project Ireland 2040.

Irish Independent

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