Galway group wants action on ‘dangerous’ road

N59 Action Campaign launches petition calling for development of Connemara route

A campaign group in Connemara has initiated a petition to highlight the need to address what it describes as ‘one of the most dangerous roads’ in the State. File photograph: Getty Images/National Geographic

A campaign group in Connemara has initiated a petition to highlight the need to address what it describes as ‘one of the most dangerous roads’ in the State. File photograph: Getty Images/National Geographic

 

A campaign group in Connemara has initiated a petition to highlight the need to address what it describes as “one of the most dangerous roads” in the State.

The N59 Action Campaign says it already has more than 600 signatures in support of its petition, which calls on Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to develop the main road between Galway, Clifden and Leenane.

Campaign member Seosamh Ó Cuaig said the time for “speeches and waffle” was over.

He said the fact that a decent road could not be developed in and out of Connemara was “nothing short of a national scandal”.

The N59 upgrade had been planned by Galway County Council, with funding from TII, in two stages.

The first phase, to upgrade the route from Oughterard to Maam Cross, Co Galway, was approved by An Bord Pleanála in December 2013, while the second phase, from Maam Cross to Clifden, was turned down.

‘Major concerns’

However, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) did not sign off on the first phase, and expressed “major concerns” about the impact of the plans on one of the world’s most significant populations of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

NPWS ecologist Dr Áine O’Connor said that proposed sections of the upgrade should be “carefully reconsidered . . . [the] lack of clarity on exactly what is planned, where and when, is the biggest challenge at this point in time”, in an email to colleagues at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in June 2014.

Mr Ó Cuaig said that while endangered habitats were important, residents were “only looking for a safe, small corridor” to travel through.

Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said there were complex issues involved in the case.

He said his party had invited the NPWS and other stakeholders to an information meeting on the issue in Maam Cross on Thursday night.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland said it had no comment on the issue.