Varadkar move blocked funding for western projects

April 5, 2018

An application for EU funding for transport projects in the west and northwest was dropped following the intervention of Leo Varadkar when he was minister for transport, newly disclosed documents reveal.

Projects such as the western rail corridor and the upgrading of Galway and Sligo airports were deleted from an EU-wide transport programme in 2011 at the behest of Mr Varadkar, according to the documents.

The change went ahead despite Mr Varadkar being warned by a party colleague that it could close off the projects from EU funding “for good”.

The current Government, which includes a number of Independent Alliance TDs from western constituencies, is now seeking to reverse the exclusion of western projects from the European Commission’s Trans-European Transport Network (Ten-T) programme. However, the documentation obtained under freedom of information shows this has been stalled by a need to “assess the implications of Brexit”.

Mr Varadkar’s decision effectively deprived transport projects north of Limerick of any prospect before 2030 of qualifying for EU funding under criteria which dictates there must be a rail, road, air, sea and cross-Border elements.

The Ten-T programme has renewed relevance for Ireland in the context of Brexit, as it provides potential funding for direct transport links to the European continent.

In early 2011 the Fianna Fáil minority government submitted the western/Atlantic road and rail cross-Border route from Cork to Derry, including the Limerick-Foynes rail line and the N69 Limerick to Foynes road, for Ten-T approval, the documents show.

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