Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Michael P. Kitt has expressed disappointment that a number of towns in the constituency have been ignored by the Government in its allocations under the Smarter Travel Initiative. Despite comprehensive applications being submitted by Gort, Loughrea and Athenry, all three towns have been refused funding.
Deputy Kitt commented, “Communities in Gort, Loughrea and Athenry have spent months working on their applications for the scheme, which has the potential to bring in business and investment for the local economy. Gort and Athenry were selected for funding for the initial phase of funding under the Active Travel Towns initiative, but have not been included in the latest round of allocations.
“I am extremely disappointed that these towns have been overlooked for grants under the Smarter Travel Scheme. This was a chance for the local communities to build on the success of the initial programme, which saw new cycleways and walking paths rolled out across the county. This new infrastructure has made a real difference to the lives of residents in these areas, encouraging and enabling them to become more active.
“I feel as Minister Donohoe has missed an opportunity to continue the impressive work that had been initiated under the scheme. The success of the Wild Atlantic Way is seeing more people coming into and spending time in Galway. That combined with the growth in adventure holidays, and in particular cycling breaks, provides a major economic incentive for towns like Gort, Loughrea and Athenry to tap into that market. However, the decision by the Minister not to allocate funding for the second phase of the programme creates a significant barrier to any plans that may have been the pipeline.
“This is a major blow for east Galway, and I will be working with local communities to ensure that they are in contention for other similar funding schemes, which will enable the upgrading and improvement of cycle lanes and footpaths across the county”.