COUNCILLORS in the Adare Rathkeale area have reacted sharply to a suggestion from their counterparts in Newcastle West that they revisit their decision not to contribute some of the Adare Rathkeale area’s budget towards the Great Southern Greenway.
The suggestion came from Cllr Michael Collins in Newcastle West last week who said councillors had been asked to allocate some of their General Municipal Allocation GMA fund to “leverage” more money for the greenway.
The Newcastle West councillors had agreed to the request on condition the Adare Rathkeale councillors also agreed. But, the Newcastle West councillors had discovered, the Adare Rathkeale councillors had voted not to contribute.
“I can’t see what the blockage is,” Cllr Collins said. “It is small money in relation to what it can trigger.”
“What we are giving could do a bit,” Cllr John Sheahan said. But crucially, he added, “it will show cause that we are committed to this project. It will tell the powers that be we are willing to put money where our mouth is.”
But Cllr Jerome Scanlon said it was time the Adare Rathkeale councillors were “told the truth” and that if they were “going to hold the greenway to ransom” then they would be depriving people of a first class amenity. He suggested a special meeting be held with the Adare Rathkeale councillors with just one item on the agenda.
Instead however it was agreed that a letter would be sent.
However, at this Tuesday’s meeting of Adare Rathkeale councillors, Cllr Kevin Sheahan railed against “councillors from other areas “putting their noses into our business here”.
A secret ballot had been taken at a previous meeting as to whether or not Adare Rathkeale councillors would contribute some GMA funding towards the greenway, he reminded councillors, and he was now putting it to an open vote.
Five councillors, Cllrs Sheahan, Keary, Teskey, O’Brien and O’Donoghue, voted against allocating GMA funds while just one councillor, Bridie Collins, voted in favour. “I want that recorded for the purpose of the busy bodies in other districts,” Cllr Sheahan said, “and I am not talking about the councillors in Newcastle West either.”
Cllr Adam Teskey pointed out that when, some time ago, Adare Rathkeale councillors had voted to defer the extension of the greenway from Rathkeale to Ballingrane, the majority of the €500,000 earmarked for it was subsequently put towards the Barnagh Tunnel, which is in the Newcastle West area. They had done the right thing then, he said, and he made no apologies for it.
That €500,000 would have gone a long way to upgrading the start of the greenway at Rathkeale, Cllr Stephen Keary argued. It could have supplied signage, surface upgrading, hedge cutting and provided toilet facilities and possibly a shop and changing rooms, all of which were needed. The old railway store would be an ideal location for facilities, he pointed out.
Cllr Keary also said he was disappointed that no effort had been made to incorporate the Rathkeale to Adare greenway into the plan for the new bypass and road.
Cllr Sheahan complained that his request to link the greenway to Foynes, Askeaton, Curragh Chase and Adare had not been responded to. “At a meeting in Newcastle West I specifically requested a map to be prepared,” he said. “I was assured that was going to be done.”
“I haven’t heard a word since,” he continued. “I am disappointed and I register my disappointment.”
“We are not in any way opposed to any aspect of the greenway. We are ambitious that what we said in Newcastle West would materialise,” Cllr Sheahan declared.
Adare Rathkeale councillors have never been found wanting when it comes to funding projects through the GMA, Cllr Richard O’Donoghue said and councillors had come together to support projects that otherwise would have fallen through the cracks.