A sharp exchange of views has emerged over the proposed M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick between Fine Gael and the Greens over the future of the project.
The row occurred after Green Party TD and negotiator Ossian Smyth appeared to suggest to his party convention that the M20 “will not happen” during the five years of government.
He said the project is still only at a “very early stage” and suggested the motorway project could be altered.
"It's an iconic road project in the area and if we said we were going to cancel your road, we wouldn't be able to bring anyone with us." Like the Galway ring road, "that is not planned to happen by any govt in the course of the next 5 years."
Mr Smyth said he is not in favour of increasing the capacity on the road between and made clear his party is not keen on the proposed motorway. He said he would prefer a rail link between the two cities.
His comments led to a strong statement from Limerick Fine Gael minister Patrick O’Donovan, who said the M20 Limerick-Cork motorway project is well under way and “will not be side-tracked”.
“Work on the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway is well under way and will not be side-tracked by commentary coming out of political party meetings in Dublin. It’s obvious a project of this scale would take a number of years to build once given the green light,” he said.
“This project, which is long-awaited by the people of Limerick, Cork and everywhere in between, was given a vital boost earlier this year with the allocation of €3m by Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The project is already progressing as a result, and I wish to assure people in the Mid-West that the M20 absolutely will be completed, despite some media reporting today,” he added.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Smyth moved to clarify his remarks saying he meant the project “will not be completed” in the five-year term of a government.
“Of course, I’d prefer to have a rail link between the two cities. The M20 project will continue as planned. The department of Transport had not planned to complete it before 2025. There is planning and preparatory work in the coming years,” he said.