U-turn over Limerick road plan prompted by fears for €400m investment
Plan to hold off on €58m project sparked backlash from community and local TDs
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan announced on Wednesday that the full road project – seen as critical to the regeneration of Moyross, one of the country’s poorest areas – would go ahead. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan’s backtracking on his plan to hold off on fully proceeding with plans for a Limerick road followed concerns that any delay could impact a €400 million investment in the city.
Proposals, which are set to be announced imminently, include a medical facility and housing development which are said to be dependent on the road going ahead.
It is understood that Limerick City and County Council management emphasised the importance of the €58 million Coonagh to Knockalisheen road project proceeding as a key part of this development in discussions with Mr Ryan on Tuesday.
He announced on Wednesday that the full road project – seen as critical to the regeneration of Moyross, one of the country’s poorest areas – would go ahead.
A row broke out over the road after Mr Ryan suggested in recent weeks that a section of it would be built, but he also wanted to deliver pedestrian, cycling and rail options for the city.
There was a backlash both from the community in nearby Moyross and from local Government TDs including Willie O’Dea and Cathal Crowe of Fianna Fáil as it appeared part of the project would be stalled while other transport options were explored.
Sources said a “US company” is about to announce a major investment in a “medical facility” and that a Limerick company was to lead a housing development project – both of which were conditional on the road going ahead.
Both projects are said to be part of a €400 million investment across three sites which is set to be announced this week.
The issue was discussed by the three coalition party leaders in recent days.
A Government source said Taoiseach Micheál Martin expressed his view on plans for the road and said that he welcomes Mr Ryan’s move to sign off on the full project.
Green Party sources dismissed any suggestion that Mr Ryan was effectively told to approve the road plan by the Taoiseach, saying, “that’s not how this coalition works”.
However, one source did say the investment in housing to be announced in Limerick was “taken into consideration” in Mr Ryan’s decision to allow the project to proceed, but the “main factor” was not to delay the road further.
Mr Ryan said he decided to allow the full project to go ahead in an interview with Limerick’s Live 95 radio on Wednesday. He said his position has always been to “get the right transport system” for Limerick and Moyross and pledged there will be no delays in the project going ahead.
Mr Ryan spoke of the need to proceed “with speed, not only with the road”, adding that he had told local authority management other measures including pedestrian, cycling and bus lanes had to “come in at the same time”.
The issue was raised in the Dáil on Wednesday by TDs who had been pressing for the road to go ahead including Mr Crowe, Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell and Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Féin.