• Special grant includes funding for a Mullingar Dog Park, additional Mullingar and Athlone Christmas lights, a new Café at Streamstown on the Greenway, new pedestrian and cycle link at Thomastown Greenway, Nancy to Nelly Walk Fore and projects being run by Athlone Tidy Towns and Athlone Festivals.


Minister of State Peter Burke has this today announced he has secured an additional €200,000 investment from his Department for what he says are key local projects which will deliver for the people of Westmeath.

“We have all had another difficult year, and while Government have had difficult decisions to make, it is imperative that we respond to the challenging environment and continue to invest in local amenities to support communities, families and businesses when we are asking them to make huge personal sacrifices.

“Through my Department, I have sought additional funding for key local projects, and I am glad to announce that we finally will have the capital to create a new Dog Park beside the C Link bridge at the canal.  Local activists such as Darren Mills and others have been calling for this, and I have met locals with Cllr Andrew Duncan on a number of occasions.  I have now allocated the funding to Westmeath County Council to develop a Dog Park and I look forward to work commencing soon.  We have seen more and more families get pets during the pandemic and it will be great to have a space to bring dogs and let them off their leads to play and interact with other dogs.

“I have allocated Westmeath County Council an additional €30,000 for Christmas lights for installation in our main towns of Mullingar and Athlone.  The traders and retailers along with our many hospitality businesses have had another challenging year when it comes to turnover, and I know we are all doing our best to shop local and support them now in their busiest times.  The lights make a more positive atmosphere in town and help us get into the Christmas spirit and feel safer when shopping.

“Separately, a Café at the Streamstown Station of the Greenway will now be supported with funding.  Outdoor activities play an important part of our lives, and we have seen new cafes pop up to provide refreshments along popular walking routes.  The Greenway is a fantastic amenity and the new café at Streamstown will support cyclists and walkers alike.  There are brand new publicly funded toilets at the Streamstown old rail station as well as ample parking, and the local Streamstown Tidy Towns Committee have done fantastic work to apply for all available funding to keep the old station site in tip top condition.  There will also be a new pedestrian and cycle link for Thomastown, which will be very welcome by the community in Rathwire.

“Athlone Tidy Towns and Festivals group will also receive a grant to support them in carrying out their community work.

“These projects are all small when taken in isolation, but together can give support to our communities and ensure we can get outdoors and feel safe and supported.

“I also have extended the rates waiver, so that the businesses worst hit by the pandemic will again not have to pay commercial rates.  This has been in place since April 2020 and will now bring businesses right up to April 2022, while the Council will receive the full allocation usually due to them from rates, with the total for 2021 of €497 million.

“I have taken the decision, with Government approval, to re-imburse our Councils for lost income from things like reduced levels of public parking fees, for a total of €61 million.  Our Local Authorities continue to provide key local services for citizens, and we have provided sufficient funding to them this year to ensure no cuts to services.

“I am hopeful that this year that our community can enjoy Christmas with our loved ones.  It’s the Government’s job to protect our people and manage crises and while difficult decisions must be made around COVID 19, Government must also support communities to manage these decisions, whether this is through business support, COVID payments or local services and amenities.

“The Department of Housing has never had a bigger budget and more housing sites are being developed now than in any other point over the last decade.  The Local Government sector must also be supported, and I am determined in my role that resources are given nationwide where they can make a positive impact on communities”.