Deputy Peter Burke this week spoke during Topical Issues in the Dáil chamber on Wednesday of this week to raise the issue of investment into the Longford Greenway.

Deptuty Burke, who was the Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council when the Greenway between Mullingar and Athlone was opened, highlighted that investment is needed to link up the Greenways and enable full utilisation of the high-quality cycling project initiated by the last Government.

“In Longford, it is of upmost importance that a greenway is developed between  Ballymahon and Abbeyshrule, which would give access to Mulingar route.

“There are regional and local proposals currently to extend and complete Royal Canal greenway from Abbeyshrule to Clondra on the Shannon. It is intended to connect the Greenway across the Bord na Mona Bogs to Lanesboro and cross the Shannon via the existing Bord na Mona rail bridge into Roscommon and link into Strokestown and Rooskey. This will open potential connections to Sligo and Westport.

“Longford County Council contributed €50,000 out of its own resources in 2015 to complete the connection from Abbeyshrule as far as Mullingar. In 2013/4 Longford Tourism invested €250,000 to complete the Section from Longford Town to Kilashee to Clondra

“An application for funding for this Royal Canal Greenway from Abbeyshrule to Ballymahon was submitted to the Department of Transport in 2014. The estimated cost of this section of Greenway is €650,000. Longford is still awaiting approval for this funding application and I want to bring this to the Minister’s attention today.

“ In 2016 Longford County Council again are funding €50,000 out of its own resources to fund an extension of the Greenway west from Abbeyshrule. This piece meal approach is unsustainable and not providing the full Off Road experience that cyclists expect and demand.

“Full and proper funding from the Department of Transport would allow this project to be completed to Ballymahon before year end, 2016”.

Deputy Burke stated that he is aware that there are issues ongoing with local land owners but that he understands that these issues may be resolved shortly. He concluded:

“Both cyclists and local enterprise will gain far more benefit from linked tracks and the project and investment will only be fully utilised when these routes are linked. The numbers taking up cycling is growing every year and with many individuals and clubs now cycling at a competitive level and covering long distances, the Greenways can play a central role in the sport. We can’t let Longford be left behind”.