WHEN it comes to transport options, the people of West Cork were better off in the 19th century than they are now, according to Cork South West TD Michael Collins.
The independent TD has called on the Taoiseach to make the transportation and infrastructure needs of West Cork a priority and to look into providing a light rail service for the region.
“While speaking at the European Parliament recently, the Taoiseach said he wants to see electric railways in Ireland as a step to meeting the country’s climate change commitments,” said Mr Collins.
“Well, Taoiseach, you now have a perfect opportunity and should at least authorise a study to see how we can bring the railways back to West Cork. In the 1850s, West Cork had a rail service that ran from Cork city to Schull and from the city to Bantry on the northern route,” he added.
“Today, we have no railways, an inadequate public transport service and a road network that is crumbling under the weight of the traffic.
“More money must be spent on the roads and the transport services in West Cork if we are to make the region attractive not only for job creation and tourism but for those who would like to make their homes in the towns and villages across the region.”
The recent funding for roads announced by Minister Shane Ross was totally inadequate for the work that needs to be done, according to Mr Collins.
“We are barely able to ensure proper repairs are carried out never mind commit to the works that need to be carried out and finished,” he said.
“We are unable to finish the urgently required Bandon bypass, which has gone on for decades now, Innishannon has become a bottleneck and because of the total absence of passing bays along the N71, a journey between Skibbereen and Clonakilty, which should take just 25 minutes can, in reality, take double this time to complete.’
“The €44 million allocated by Minister Ross to the entire county of Cork is, it has been estimated, less than 10% of the real cost of repairing the road in West Cork, never mind what is needed to sort out the rest of the county,” he added. “We need to get serious about the condition of our roads and provide for the future transport needs of the people of West Cork.”