THE Green Party influence in government has been blamed for a lack of funding to address safety concerns at a junction on the main arterial route into East Clare. News that the Department of Transport is prioritising Active Travel funds over grants for specific road schemes angered members of the Killaloe Municipal District this week, when they learned that a large-scale application for works at Henchey’s Cross on the R352 had been refused.
The matter was raised by Councillor Pat Hayes after The Schedule of Municipal District Works for 2021 was outlined at a district meeting this week. The Killaloe Cathaoirleach welcomed the allocation of €100,000 this year and sought clarity on what last year’s figure of €150,000 had been used for. “A man rang me just the other day to ask if somebody needed to die at this junction before action is taken,” the Fianna Fáil member said. “There was another serious incident there lately and the situation needs to be addressed.”
Senior Engineer John Leahy, who presented the works schedule, noted that the 2020 allocation had been earmarked for design plans. He said the council wanted to realign the road horizontally and vertically as part of a multi-million euro scheme. “We drew up the detailed design and project appraisal and sent it to the department who told us they had no funds for the work,” Mr Leahy said. “The focus for the department is Active Travel. That’s their position. The works done to-date on design, land valuation and preparatory work will be used in the future. The allocation we got will allow signing and lining. I don’t think that’s adequate but that is what they’ve asked us to do and we will persevere and try to get funds.”
Councillor Pat Burke expressed annoyance at the situation noting the location has been flagged repeatedly by members as a dangerous location. “To think the department is ignoring Henchey’s Cross smacks of Green Party influence,” the Fine Gael member said. “They have fine ideas on Active Travel and those are welcome, but work at Henchey’s cross is more important before someone dies. I feel this is Green Party influence big time. They’re ignoring critical issues. I know how hard our local officials work and I’m very disappointed with the department. This is a major route going from East Clare to Shannon. Active Travel is great but basic road safety is critical.”