By Trevor Quinn
A Western Rail Corridor campaigner has urged Sligo County Council to reconsider its position over a proposed greenway on a disused line to Charlestown.
Colmán Ó Raghallaigh, a spokesperson for the Western Rail Corridor lobby group, West on Track, said it would make no sense to block the rail project when the walking-cycling trail could be constructed elsewhere.
Sligo county councillor Marie Casserly stated over the weekend that the EU tendering process for the design of the Sligo Greenway project had commenced, with a view to bringing it to the stage where a planning application could be lodged.
There is political support in Sligo for the proposed greenway, a 35.5km stretch of off-road public walking/cycling trail linking Bellaghy/Charlestown with Collooney.
There was renewed optimism last July that the long campaign to reopen the Western Rail Corridor from Galway to Claremorris would succeed after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he supported the €154m project.
Mr Ó Raghallaigh is adamant the greenway should not come at the expense of the possibility of connecting Mayo and Sligo by rail.
“We have made it clear repeatedly that we would like to see people who want a greenway in Sligo [getting] a greenway.
“We have no difficulty whatsoever with that and by coincidence on December 5, 2015, we went to Sligo County Council and we told them that we would fully and strongly support the development of a greenway as long as it was a safe distance from the railway line.
“Unfortunately, that olive branch appears to have been spurned by those people.
“The second point I would make is that it’s now very likely that the railway will be reopened to Claremorris and its extremely unlikely that the Minister for Transport [Eamon Ryan] will reopen part of the Western Rail Corridor and agree to the destruction of the rest of it.
“And for that reason alone, we believe Sligo County Council should reconsider its position and it should seek to have both options available for people in Sligo, [they should] protect the railway line and develop the greenway a safe distance from the railway line.”