GREEN Party councillors in Limerick have been called on to disassociate themselves from the “pro-urban, pro-Dublin agenda” of their leadership.
The call came from Fine Gael Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan who was responding to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s demand that the M20 motorway project to be shelved in favour of urban public transport in Cork and Limerick.
“Do our local Green Party representatives stand over these Dublin-centric assertions?” Minister O’Donovan asked.
“They need to make it clear if they are behind their party leader’s policy objective with absolutely zero regard for how it will affect commuters and enterprise in the Mid-West?”
Minister O’Donovan went onto say that Fine Gael is committed to balanced and sustainable development for every community across the country. He also believes that Deputy Ryan has made it clear he wants to prioritise urban areas only.
“We want the population of Limerick to grow by at least 50 per cent by 2040. The importance of the M20 as a potential driver of economic growth cannot be underestimated.”
His party colleague Senator Kieran O’Donnell also hit out at the Green Party leader’s calls to put the brakes on the M20 project. The Limerick politician warned that shelving the project would be detrimental to both the regional economy and road users.
“The lack of suitable road infrastructure connecting Limerick and Cork, and on to Galway, could prove detrimental to creating a viable counterbalance to Dublin.”
He pointed out that the current N20 road is no longer fit for purpose, with some estimates putting it at 120 per cent of capacity back in 2017.
“Likewise, if we do not enhance our public transport system in tandem with the M20, Limerick will not be able to grow at the rate we are targeting. Eamon Ryan needs to realise that we can and need to look at the provision of motorway and public transport infrastructure in an integrated way,” he added.
In response, Green Party councillor for Limerick City North, Brian Leddin said: “We need to find the best transport solutions for Limerick, the Mid-West and Munster.
“Considering the environmental crisis that is facing us, but also with a view to the great potential that Limerick has, the M20, as originally proposed more than a decade ago, has been called into question by experts, such as Dr Edgar Morgenrath of the ESRI and John Moran, former Secretary General of the Department of Finance.
“It is important that we take decisions responsibly, with many suggesting there are better solutions. All projects should be re-evaluated for cost – both direct and indirect – climate impact, and whether they will contribute to a stronger, better planned region,” Cllr Leddin added.