January 21, 2021
MEP MacManus calls for EU Commission review to bring transport funding to the West

MEP MacManus calls for EU Commission review to bring transport funding to the West 

This week in the European Parliament, MEPs are preparing for the review of EU transport funding, which will be proposed by the European Commission later this year. Chris MacManus, MEP for the Midlands-North West, spoke about how he hopes this will bring funding towards the West and overturn the Irish government’s long held policy of neglect towards the region. In particular, he hopes that it will pave the way for the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor in order to deliver balanced regional development, attract investment and provide greater employment opportunities for communities in the west. Speaking from Brussels, he said:

“I voted in favour of Parliament’s own-initiative report on TEN-T revision. This report comes ahead of the legislative proposal of the Commission which will come later this year, to revise the TEN-T. The Commission will make a proposal based on both its engagement with Members States, and the open public consultations which were carried out throughout 2019. This proposal is eagerly awaited, and Sinn Fein has repeatedly called for a revision of the TEN-T to include the west of Ireland and pave the way for the reopening of the Western Rail Corridor providing a rail link from Athenry to Claremorris initially, eventually being extended on to Sligo, Donegal and Derry, connecting the entire western seaboard.”

“The TEN-T is the EU’s programme to fund transport. It is clear that the TEN-T must be revised to reflect the climate crisis and to prioritise investment in sustainable transport. I welcome that this report highlights the need for further EU investment in rail, and this is an area where Ireland falls behind other EU member states.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP said potential funding must be invested in the regions that need it most. “In voting for this report, I hope that a revised TEN-T would place Ireland’s Western Arc on the TEN-T Core network so that the Government can use EU transport funding to invest in rail in the region that needs it most – the west of Ireland. The TEN-T core network receives 85% of EU funding, and so far the Irish government has repeatedly earmarked this funding for the Eastern seaboard and to the detriment of Western regions.”

“If the upcoming Commission proposal does not change Ireland’s TEN-T Core map, we will know that once again the Irish government has failed to prioritise the West and failed to communicate its funding needs to the European Commission. EU transport funding for the West would connect and lift up the hubs and towns across the West, allowing people to live, work and commute within the West.”

“In particular the re-instalment of the Western Rail Corridor would bring great economic benefits and contribute significantly to reversing the decline of our region. It would provide an enormous boost to communities across the west and north-west and allow these areas to compete with other regions in attracting both foreign and indigenous investment, growing jobs and ensuring that these communities have a sustainable future.”

MacManus said successive governments have neglected the west of Ireland.  “This campaign has been long in the running, and the people of the West are tired of the government’s mixed messaging. Every election we see support for the Western Rail Corridor from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives, yet in government they do in fact get to decide where to prioritise EU funding, and fail each time to put the West on the TEN-T Core network.”

The Sinn Féin MEP concluded by calling for the regional imbalances to be addressed. “It doesn’t make sense to repeatedly invest in Ireland’s already well-developed areas, when transport investment in the West would benefit our rural and peripheral regions, while ensuring that we follow a trajectory of balanced regional development. I will continue to keep a sharp eye on this issue and push for EU transport funding for regions that need it most.” ENDS

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