‘Irish government appears to have blocked EU funding for Western Rail Corridor!’ – Matt Carthy MEP
Matt Carthy MEP has said that it appears that the Irish government has blocked the potential for EU funding to develop the Western Rail Corridor. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds listed transport projects across the EU. But, it has emerged Council representatives (acting on behalf of EU governments) have resisted the inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor on the CEF list in secret negotiations with European Parliament and Commission representatives.
Speaking following the outcome of negotiations, Carthy said:
‘Last December, the European Parliament supported my amendments to recognise the Western Rail Corridor as a priority link within the CEF fund. MEPs from across a range of EU Member States could see the clear need for a rail network in the West of Ireland.
‘Following this vote in the European Parliament, the report entered into trilogue negotiations; secret negotiations where only a limited number of officials can attend. It became clear from our sources that the Council, the representative body of Member State governments, did not support the funding, and in fact, vehemently opposed the proposal. It is implausible that the Council would adopt such a position without the say-so of the Irish government.
‘The Irish government has delayed for years the opportunity for this project to receive vital EU transport funding. Sinn Féin submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Transport, Shane Ross, on whether the Irish government was supporting the amendments at EU negotiations. Unsurprisingly, the Minster declined to comment on the position of the Irish government in the closed negotiations.
‘Instead, the Minister claims that he will submit to the European Commission an application to review Ireland’s TEN-T map within the next six weeks. However, communities across the west of Ireland will not be confident. In 2016, the Programme for Partnership Government stated that an application to review the Irish TEN-T map would occur within three months of government formation. I revealed last year that they hadn’t even asked the European Commission for a review. It is now 2019. How long does it take the Irish government to write a letter?
‘It is now beyond question that there is an inbuilt bias in this Fine Gael government, supported by Fianna Fáil, against infrastructural development for regions such as the west. People will recall that it was Leo Varadkar, while Transport Minister, who forced the removal of transport projects in the West and North West, including the Western Rail Corridor, from the TEN-T map. Now it appears that is government has blocked progress that we made in the European Parliament to begin to address a glaring omission in our public transport network.
“Any TD in the west, whether they be Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Independent that continues to support this government while they refuse to change course on this matters will, in effect, be operating against the economic best interests of their own constituents.
“For our part, Sinn Féin MEPs will continue to support the Western Rail Corridor as a vital infrastructure project and we will continue to hold those to account who are failing to deliver for the west of Ireland.”