Cork county manager Martin Riordan is anxious to create more tourist jobs in West Cork — but said he worried about sending strangers down its only long and winding main road because its “unsafe” in many places and the National Roads Authority is not providing significant money to upgrade it.
Mr Riordan is to lobby the roads authority to, at the least, provide money for some overtaking lanes on the N71 to minimise danger and help stimulate the region’s economic growth.
Mr Riordan said the quickest way to create jobs in West Cork was through tourism. But he added he was worried about sending visitors on the N71 — the Cork to Killarney road that passes through Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Bantry — which they did not know and which was “long and in some places unsafe”.
The manager said that he would lobby Leo Varadkar because he was not only the minister for transport , but also for tourism, and he was ideally placed to see the problems and the potential.
Mr Riordan made his comments after a number of councillors from the region said they were fed up with the NRA constantly refusing to provide adequate funding to upgrade the road.
Cllr Donal O’Rourke (FF) said the NRA had ignored representations and deputations for years and he wanted some “fair play and balanced regional development.”
Cllr Noel O’Donovan (FG) said that, without a proper main road, he could not see how industries would decide to locate in the region.
The region’s remoteness was highlighted by his party colleague, Cllr Dermot Sheehan, who said many of its population were more than a two-hour drive to the nearest motorway.
Meanwhile, a number of councillors said the Clonakilty bypass, which is part of the N71, had fallen into a state of major disrepair.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said it needed urgent upgrading, while Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said the road was “in a shocking state” and a special case should be made to the NRA to improve it.
Tom Stritch, the council’s director of road services, said he had recently walked the bypass and was “well aware of the situation”.
He said he would press the NRA for funding.
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