Statement by Brendan Griffin TD (FG) KERRY

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

KERRY Fine Gael TD, Brendan Griffin, believes that Kerry has the potential to become the greenway capital of Ireland.

Deputy Griffin’s comments came after a response to a Dáíl question that he tabled revealed that the Great Western Greenway from Westport to Achill in County Mayo is contributing €7.2million to the economy every year after having cost just €5.568 million in total. The response also said that the Greenway is maintaining and creating employment and is creating considerable demand for services along the route, such as accommodation, bike hire, taxi services, tour operators, local shops, bars and restaurants.

“I firmly believe that Kerry has the potential to benefit hugely from the provision of Greenways. Greenways such as the old Mayo line and the Rathkeale to Kilmorna line are wonderful examples of how resources can become amenities to deliver jobs and growth. We need to grasp the greenway potential in our county to help our economic recovery.

“Kerry County Council, especially Vincent Foley, has done a great deal of work to progress the Fenit to Tralee Greenway and this deserves to be fully supported to completion. Similarly, the old Farranfore to Valentia Great Southern Railway line, including the breath-taking Mountain Stage at Kells, presents a massive opportunity for the people of Kerry. A recent feasibility study by Joe McCrohan and South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd. has shown that an investment of €4-7 million could complete the Glenbeigh to Caherciveen section.

“A huge opportunity now exists to connect Kilmorna with Listowel, and thereby connecting Listowel with Rathkeale via greenway. We need to fully embrace this opportunity. The fears and concerns of objectors must of course be listened to and addressed where possible and it is vital that the massive economic and social benefits of such a project would be conveyed to all.

“As well as our old railway lines, our roads network presents an opportunity to develop a fully integrated network of safe cycling lanes connecting many parts of Kerry. The N21 from the county boundary near Abbeyfeale to Tralee via Castleisland could facilitate a safe and separated cycling lane. Such a lane already exists along the main section of the Castleisland by-pass. The recently constructed section of the N86 Tralee to Dingle Road is another good example of how a small bit of extra work on a major infrastructural project can create a whole new parallel amenity and income earner. These cycling lanes must be developed further to help connect Dingle and west Kerry to the rest of the county. With some effort and imagination Kerry Airport, Killarney, with its wealth of safe cycling routes, Kenmare and other areas could also be integrated to the network.

“In some areas, quiet and rarely used local roads and old disused roads, if adequately sign posted and mapped have the potential to offer an extensive network of “off the beaten track” routes to holidaymakers, which would in turn help bring spending, wealth and jobs to parts of the county that would previously not have benefitted. Some excellent work has already been done over the years in Kerry in this regard and now is the time to do more. For example, less than 100 metres from the entrance to Kerry Airport is access to a far reaching network of quiet country lanes, ideal for those seeking a peaceful cycling experience. I have recently brought these proposals to Kerry County Council and have also sought advice from Minister Leo Varadkar’s office. I have also discussed proposals with senior representatives of Fáilte Ireland, who all agree that there is great potential here.

“For such an aspiration to become a reality, there will have to be multi-agency joined up thinking and consultation in Kerry and the will from local and central Government to push such an approach. The nature of holiday making continues to change and we need to change our product in tandem. I will continue to make efforts to deliver progress on this front because I believe the rewards will far outweigh any costs.”

Contact Brendan on 087 6528841


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