Castlemartyr Community Council held a “Have Your Say” public meeting on Tuesday 16th of October in Castlemartyr School Hall. Approximately 40 people attended and all present had an opportunity to comment on any matter relating to the village.
One of the main topics for discussion was the proposed Midleton to Youghal Greenway on which Cork County Council is currently seeking planning permission. Any member of the public is free to make a submission relating to planning to Cork County Council by October 30th 2018.
Funding for the Greenway will be provided by national Government to the value of €53 million which is open to County Councils from all over Ireland to submit their bids by end of November 2018. €53million will be divided up between the winning bids from County Councils over a 3-year period. The Government strategy defines national greenways as routes which are at least 100km long and a regional greenway as routes at least 20km long but preferably closer to 40Km which can be extended to connect to a longer strategic route.
Opinion of Castlemartyr Community Council
The Greenway has been discussed at Community Council meetings on a number of occasions and the unanimous decision has always been that getting a rail line reinstalled should be more of a priority than a Greenway. In fact before news of the proposed Greenway was announced, it had already been suggested that extending the railway from Midleton to Mogeely to facilitate a park-and-ride should be considered. To this writer, news of a proposed Greenway at this particular time sounded bizarre. A Greenway would have been great if we were still living in 1985 but we are living in the year 2018 and Castlemartyr, and East Cork in general, is unrecognisably different from when the last train travelled on the rail track to Youghal in 1985. Mogeely is going to be the centre of a major new state-of-the-art cheese production facility -currently under construction valued at upwards of €140 million. Mogeely could be the next logical location for further industrial growth as future Cork City boundaries expand down the rail line.
Opinion of the Public Meeting
Although the first suggestion was that a dedicated path to the Greenway from Castlemartyr should be considered, all opinions expressed at the meeting conveyed the priority for reopening the rail line over installation of a Greenway. That however great the Greenway will be, the priority should be reopening of the line to Mogeely at least, as once the Greenway goes down it will be very difficult to remove and some suggested it would never be removed.
In case people are not aware, Castlemartyr is choc-a-bloc with traffic continuously from 6am in the morning to 10pm in the evening. The traffic lights at the bridge on the N25 is dealing with volumes of traffic similar to a busy city centre. Even when current road works on the N25 have been completed, Castlemartyr will continue to have long queues of traffic building up on the East and West side of the village especially at rush hour. The reality is, it is only going to get worse and worse for the foreseeable future so why install a Greenway at a time when East Cork needs either new roads or a new rail line? It would not surprise if Castlemartyr village was processing more traffic than any other town centre or village in East Cork. Youghal and Midleton for example are both bypassed and neither have heavy traffic from the N25 going through their town centres the way the N25 goes through Castlemartyr. While the town centre of Midleton is always very busy and traffic at a standstill, the major volumes of traffic is on Midleton’s N25 bypass or ring roads. The average daily traffic volume between Midleton and Castlemartyr is 17,000 cars per day* all which have to go through the village. Dungarvan’s N25 bypass for example is approx. 11,000 cars per day* (*Source TII). With the populations of Midleton and Carrigtwohill set to expand to 25,000 and 10,000 respectively by 2025 the logical decision should be to get more cars off the road and people onto rail networks or other forms of public transport.
There is a view amongst local councillors and TD’s that we all should get behind the Greenway because opening of the rail line …”IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN”! -That Irish Rail will never open the rail line to Youghal again so we all should just accept the Greenway as a first step. That “isn’t it better we do something positive for the area rather than leave the track to rot, overgrown and idle for another 50 years?” Such may be the correct assessment of the realpolitik, but is it really?
The reality is that Irish Rail / CIE will do what they are paid to do and instructed to do by the Government of the day. Regulators and State body executives will do what their masters tell them. We already have had one trojan sold to the people of Cork which is the new over-engineered terminal at Cork airport. The excessive cost and specification of the terminal has sabotaged Cork Airport from ever becoming financially independent. All decisions regarding flights in and out of Cork are being decided by its competitor the DAA. Note all the while overseen by Cork’s senior politicians. Such will continue to happen if we allow it to happen.
If the Greenway goes down, sure it will be great and this writer will be one of the first on it. It will be a fantastic resource for the people of East Cork but it will come at a cost. The cost will be that Cork will be classified as a tourist hub and not realise its full potential as an economic hub or industrial hub. Cork will simply not have sufficient infrastructure to move people to and from work on time. If DART and LUAS works for Dublin why won’t something on a much smaller scale work in Cork?
Cork County is projected to have a population of 846,000 by 2050 and future Cork City boundaries are likely to expand east down the rail track. In the absence of any new road infrastructure, it is perfectly logical to begin planning for a Cork Area Rapid Transport programme of which rail or similar technology should be given serious consideration.
Ultan Murphy, Des Rothwell, Orla McGovern, Eileen Burns, Fionnuala Mullane, Sean Scott Baird, Colette L’Hostis, Rory O’Donnell, Julie McCarthy
Castlemartyr Community Council.
(Not all members had the opportunity to sign in time for publication)