Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has hit out at the Environment Minister for allocating €1.5m in funding to his own constituency at the expense of essential projects in Monaghan. Alan Kelly diverted the money to schemes in Clonmel and Thurles, despite an independent assessment group highlighting the fact that projects in other towns, like Monaghan and Castleblayney, were in more urgent need of the grants.
Deputy Smith commented, “The Minister’s blatant favouritism in the way in which these grants were awarded beggar’s belief. The fact that out of a total fund of €6.5m, €1.5m has been granted to projects in his home county of Tipperary is a flagrant bending of the rules. What’s worse is the fact that there are 8 other towns across the country which were deemed more deserving of these grants.
“The Active Travel Town Scheme is designed to encourage more people to get out walking or cycling, rather than using their cars. A scoring system, undertaken by an independent assessment group, was used to work out what towns were in most need of the funding. Clonmel, which scored 66 marks out of 100 was awarded €1m euro under the scheme, while Thurles, which scored 56 marks received €500k. However, Castleblayney, which scored 77 out of 100 was completely sidelined, as was Monaghan, which scored 66 points.
“The Minister’s decision to ignore the advice of the independent assessment group and allocate almost one quarter of the total funding available nationally to projects in Co. Tipperary smacks of arrogance and demonstrates a clear lack of accountability. The democratic revolution that was promised has obviously long since been forgotten, with the Minister choosing to ignore independent advice to secure funding for his own constituency and save his seat in the next General Election.
“A scheme like this would bring much needed funding to an area which has been sorely neglected by this Government. The fact that the Minister has put his own political security above the national good speaks volumes about its priorities. It is shameful that towns in Monaghan have lost out because of Minister Kelly’s decision to override the recommendations of the independent assessment group and it proves that this Government is more interested in looking after its own Ministers rather than working for the good of the entire country”.