The controversial Kerry snail has been accused of causing 45 minute traffic delays and denying the county investment and jobs.
Questions were also raised in the Dáil yesterday over the identification of the Kerry snail with one TD asking if he dons the county jersey.
Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae said the Macroom to Ballyvourney bypass, which has been sought for more than 30 years and would serve those travelling between Cork and Kerry, had been delayed because of the snail.
Mr Healy-Rae said: “It has been held up by environmentalists and others who thought up ridiculous reasons, such as snails and other species, and to rub salt into our wounds, they described them as the Kerry snail.
“I wonder had they put a Kerry jersey on him or how did they decide he was a Kerry snail,” he said
Mr Healy-Rae said the road currently has “treacherous bends” and people can be delayed for around 45 minutes going through Macroom.
“This project is of paramount strategic importance to all the people of Kerry, all those who travel to Cork and back every day for work and the many hundreds of people from Kerry who have to travel to consultants and doctors in Cork University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital and South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital.”
He said the lack of a proper road was one of the key reasons why the Kerry Group decided to set up its global technology innovation centre in Co Kildare, which he said had cost Kerry up to 900 jobs.
However, education minister, and former minister for jobs, for Richard Bruton said he had been directly involved in the Kerry Group project and “it was competing with the Netherlands and the UK”. He said: “There was a really difficult competition to win to get that project for Ireland at all and the project was, of its nature, one that would have to be located close to deep skill pools that were demanded by it.”
Mr Bruton said work on the bypass is “well advanced” and has full statutory approval. He said he understood notifications had been sent to landowners involved on the route and that land acquisition was under way. He could not say if it would be included in next year’s estimates.
Mr Bruton said he could give “some reassurance” that the capital envelope is being increased and the commitment in the programme for Government will be raised to €5bn, to which Mr Healy-Rae responded: “Post the envelope to Kerry.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved