Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins has called for immediate action in order to prioritise the development of the Athlone to Ballinasloe greenway. 

Raising the matter in the Seanad this morning 24th October 2018 with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D., Senator Hopkins stated, “There remains a significant untapped tourism potential right across this region and the development of this section of greenway has the potential to bring an influx of tourists into the area.”

“Evidence shows that active tourism such as greenways have the potential to provide a significant economic boost for this area. In Waterford, the new greenway which was opened in March 2017 was used by over 250,000 people in it’s first year and this has provided a huge economic boost for that region. I strongly believe that this greenway from Ballinasloe to Athlone and onto Dublin can provide a major boost for South Roscommon and East Galway”.

“In progressing this project, it is essential that proper engagement takes place with all local stakeholders, including landowners, the community, local authorities and state agencies. We need to look at all possible options to ensure that a consensus can be found on this development.”

“In recent weeks, the National Greenway Strategy was launched. This new strategy provides €53 million for greenway development over the next three years. It is essential that renewed focus is placed on the Athlone to Ballinasloe section of greenway in order to ensure we can secure funding for this project”.

Stating that Senator Hopkins intervention has given a renewed priority to this project, Minister Ross said, “There is clear evidence from examples of Greenways such as Mayo and Waterford that they can provide significant economic benefits for towns and villages along these routes. Jobs have been created in cafes, restaurants, hotels and bike hire companies that would not have been otherwise created.”

“The new Tourism Brand for the region, Irelands Hidden Heartlands places a strong focus on active tourism and this project along with the Beara Brefine Way should be at the centre of it.”

Senator Hopkins concluded, “Minister Ross has given a very positive response to my representations on this issue in relation to the development of the Athlone to Ballinasloe Greenway.  The development of this Greenway has the potential to provide economic growth for this area. However, it cannot be a success without community support which can only be brought about through proper engagement. I have asked that Minister Ross can visit this region in the near future in order to see first hand the potential which exists locally.”