CORK North West TD Aindrias Moynihan is predicting big things for the wider Macroom area in the coming years off the back of the acceleration of long-mooted capital projects in 2021.
The Fianna Fáil TD said while most of the focus politically over the last year has been concentrated on all matters Covid related, he is pleased to report much progress has also been made on capital projects from a local level.
“A huge amount has happened over the last year. Covid has obviously dominated the last year. Aside from the Covid issues, an awful lot of headway was made locally. We got a lot of local projects up and running. We advanced the N22 Macroom bypass. This work was able to continue during the Covid lockdown. There are five major capital projects currently underway within five minutes of the square in Macroom, which is very encouraging.
“Tenders are currently being sought to carry out the multi-million euro redevelopment of Macroom's Briery Gap Theatre, builders are moving off-site in the new houses in Páirc Uí Mhuirithe and people are moving in. You have the bypass, the hospital is advancing and a roof went on the new fire station recently.
The TD for Cork North West said everyone in the local hinterland will benefit from all the big projects currently underway in Macroom.
He said great progress has also been made on various schemes in Coachford, Ballyvourney, and Dripsey which will add greatly to their local communities.
"Beyond the edge of the town, there is huge work going on in wastewater schemes. Coachford, Ballyvourney, and Dripsey are finishing out their new wastewater plans and Inchigeela is due to start up. That key infrastructure will improve the water quality and it means there will be housing opportunities opening up in those different villages.”
Mr Moynihan said a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure all the various capital projects can get underway and proceed to a successful conclusion. Looking towards next year he said he will keep working hard to ensure more projects will commence in his constituency area.
“There is a lot of very visible work underway at the moment and that doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of background work has to take place ahead of that.
"We need to keep the focus on the cost of living and getting housing that is affordable to people. I raised this issue with City Hall again recently.
"They need to be using the national Housing for All schemes and delivering on those houses. In the last 12 months, almost 170 families locally have received social housing in Ballyvourney, Rylane, Macroom, Millstreet, and Ballincollig.”
He said Covid has hit the area hard.
The new threat posed by the Omicron variant has led to new restrictions being imposed on all sections of society once again nationwide in a bid to curb the spread of the variant. Deputy Moynihan has great empathy for everyone who has suffered since the onset of the pandemic.
MAJOR N22 FUNDS APPROVED Bypass €60.7M for next year. Other schemes approved funds include Lee to Sea Greenway #Macroom, #Farann, Dripsey €100k ; #Ballyvourney €50k pedestrian safety; Macroom pedestrian safety work €50k @CorksRedFM @C103Cork @Corkman_ie @SouthernStarIRL pic.twitter.com/ZHzp8bwv7z— Aindrias Moynihan TD (@AindriasMoynih1) December 17, 2021
“It has been a very difficult time for everybody including the public, the health services, and all the various authorities. The government has been making difficult choices.
"It has focussed on the best interests of the public and making our way through the pandemic. It has been so difficult on lots of people between bereavements and being isolated. At every level, it has been difficult for people.”
The Cork North West constituency is generally rural with the notable exception of Ballincollig, which is by far the largest urban centre in the constituency. The 2016 census put the population of Ballincollig at more than 18,000. The suburban town continues to grow as new housing estates and other developments come on stream. Deputy Moynihan said housing and school places are key priorities for him in Ballincollig.
“Ballincollig has grown very quickly over recent years. Housing is a big issue and there needs to be more emphasis by City Hall on affordable housing. School places are also an ongoing issue. There is an ongoing difficulty in getting a permanent site for the Le Chéile secondary school and the Gaelscoil. That will be a big focus for the next year ahead. I raised it recently with City Hall who I urged to keep their focus on getting a site. It is vital that work is advanced on this so they are able to open an ASD unit to serve the second level students in the community.”
Meanwhile, Mr Moynihan has highlighted the need for the Fianna Fáil party to focus on key issues such as health and housing if they are to reconnect with the electorate and especially the young voters who appear to have deserted them in big numbers going by the last general election and opinion poll results.
In the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, Fianna Fáil is currently polling at 20%, level with Fine Gael and 15 points behind Sinn Féin. Deputy Moynihan said the party needs to deliver on key issues to get back onside with the electorate.
"We need to keep the focus on affordable housing, which needs to be up and running. I feel that if we get delivery on those key areas and get past Covid which is really difficult for everybody, it will help. We need to keep the focus on the cost of living, housing, and health. We have a track record of delivering on the key issues. It is important we build on that now,” he said.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has come in for much criticism both internally and externally during his tenure. Deputy Moynihan said there is no question about his leadership and he will continue to serve as the Taoiseach and party leader going forward. “He is very much focused on being the Taoiseach over the next year. That is where the focus is really. There are no questions on any change in that.”