The Green Party has called for Tipperary to be prioritised in upcoming investment in Greenways. The call was made in the Party’s submission to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s consultation on the Future Development of Greenways.
Speaking today, Green Party Representative in Tipperary, Gearóid Fitzgibbon, said: “Greenways should be a key part of our public transport network. Not only do they provide great walking and cycling experiences for recreation, they also have a transformative effect on areas in which they are built – they can provide a major boost for the local economy, as well as the obvious health benefits.
“We want Tipperary to be prioritised in the upcoming Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport strategy on Greenways.
“Tipperary offers two potential routes for greenways which could provide great benefit to underserved rural areas. Both of these have strong community backing, and the potential to add value to existing tourist offerings. The “Stolen Railway” is the remains of a rail link that existed for just 10 years between 1868 and 1878 between Birr and Portumna, which crosses the northernmost parish of north Tippe
rary has considerable potential as a future greenway project. The route was identified in the Lorrha Rathcabbin Community Action Plan 2016-2019 which was completed in 2016 by North Tipperary LEADER Partnership with funding under the Social Inclusion programme. Utilising the redundant transport infrastructure of the Stolen Railway as an off road pedestrian/cycle route could make it an exemplar of sustainable development of rural recreation and activity based tourism. This route could provide the basis of a day cycle tour that takes in the sites of Portumna, Lorrha, Lakeen Castle and Birr. It would also link into the existing Ormond Way and 300km Beara Breifne Way.
“The disused rail line between Roscrea and Portumna which closed in the 1960s also offers a significant opportunity. An existing Tipperary and Offaly Greenway Committee has secured agreement from landowners along the route to carry out a feasibility study on the project. This trail could in turn connect with the Grand Canal Greenway plan. Working with local committees like the Social and Community Enterprise group in Lorrha Rathcabbin (SCÉAL), and the Tipperary and Offaly Greenway Committee could provide a major environmental and economic boost for the entire region.
“State investment in cycle infrastructure in general, and greenways in particular, has consistently ranked highly in cost-benefit analysis. In addition to providing a valuable local transport link and recreational resource, greenways yield benefits to public health and to local economies. The priority in the development of a Greenways Strategy should be a firm commitment to make the necessary investment of public funds to provide this infrastructure.” For further information/comment, contact Gearóid on: 085 7409023
“One simple solution can immediately put money circulating into rural economies: Stop the waste of energy.” This was the key message of our campaign launch on Thursday evening of Tipperary Green Party.
Speaking at my campaign lauch on the theme of “Creating Rural Jobs and Investment”, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan spoke about his own roots in the Glen of Aherlow, and how he felt green economics can have a real impact on rural communities: “I commend Gearóid for stepping forward. The impact of community development work is limited unless our country gets strong political direction. He is as good a candidate as they get – he is doing in his real life what we are all talking about.”
A number of other of guests spoke, including Con Harrington. According to Con, “You get enthused by being involved. Gearóid has brought huge enthusiasm into our community – if the rest of Tipperary know what he has done, I’m sure they would back him. The more support he gets, the more attention will be paid to his message”
I also spoke on how locally owned energy can be turned into local invesment, “The exclusive focus on Foreign Direct Investment is ignoring the massive opportunity in cutting our country’s yearly €5.7billion spend on imported energy. In Tipperary that’s €300 million per year leaving the county. Our own local authority could easily tap into European Investment Bank funding to do this across the county, to be paid back over 15-20 years. We need our government to mandate our local authorities to do this. Tipperary should be leading here. For every 1 million spent on retrofit, 25 jobs are created.”
In wrapping up we thanked everyone who had attended and helped out – and the event sponsors – The Apple Farm, Longways Cider, and the Green Sheep.
My final comment was “My motivation for standing in the election is to highlight the need to use energy as a driver of rural communities. We need to develop community energy initiatives. We should have a network of 200 or 300 energy co-operatives in Ireland, like what has developed in Germany. When Horace Plunkett went out with one or two staff in the1890s, within five or six years you had 400 or 500 agricultural co-operatives set up with almost 200,000 members. Our agriculture sector is missing this opportunity. Our own state or ICOS are not backing it. For most of Tipperary’s towns and villages, there is no recovery to keep going, and Richard Bruton will never come and cut a ribbon announcing the latest arm of Google or Linked In. We need local solutions.”
Tipperary Greens are holding a discussion/campaign organising meeting in Cabragh Wetlands environmental education centre near Thurles this Sunday 13th December 2-3.30pm.
The objective of the meeting is to have a discussion with the selected candidate Gearóid Fitzgibbon on the campaign goals, so that it inspires those involved/potentially involved! Refreshments will be provided. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 085-7409023. You can follow our 2016 General Election Candidate on @Gearoid4Green All are Welcome.
Cabragh Wetlands is located on the Cabragh Road between Thurles & HolyCross – past the old sugar factory. More information on their website http://www.cabraghwetlands.ie