FINE Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs have joined forces in demanding that Transport Minister Eamon Ryan reinstate the Limerick Northern Distributor Road (LNDR) project, which has been in development for 20 years.
During heated exchanges in the Dáil on Thursday the Green Party leader confirmed that it was on his orders that the project had been removed from the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).
Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell stated that officials from the National Transport Authority had stated that the LNDR would be included in the revised strategy when they appeared before the Oireachtas Transport Committee.
“However, they have now told us that it’s not in the revised draft because of a direct intervention from you, as minister for transport, writing to the NTA and directing them to not include it. Is that correct?” he asked.
Mr O’Donnell said phase two was “hugely important” for the region.
“Phase one is proceeding, thankfully, we had that debate, so why are you intervening here, minister?” he asked.
“Even in the National Development Plan, it states that local authorities can bring forward important road infrastructure projects to deal with particular safety and access issues. That’s what this phase two project is doing, so what are you doing?”
Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey joined in the criticism, asking Minister Ryan if he realised that Clare County Council was firmly behind the project.
Do you realise that the Limerick Chamber of Commerce is behind it, all the chambers of commerce in Clare are behind this proposal?
“Do you realise that industrialists who provide thousands of jobs in Limerick support this road?
Do you realise that this has been in the planning process for nearly 20 years?
“And because of your intervention, it has been removed. It’s illogical.”
He called on Mr Ryan to reconsider the decision.
“I’m asking you to go away from the solo run and come back and re-evaluate what you’ve done. Put it back in that programme, it makes sense to do so,” he said.
Defending the controversial decision to stop the road, Mr Ryan was adamant that phase two would not happen and the rejuvenation, growth, and economic development of Limerick “will be met through the prioritised delivery of active travel and public transport infrastructure, rather than through road-based development”.
He added that he is very open and public in giving the reasons why he believes the strategic development of Limerick is in the existing county and at the centre of the city.