THE PEOPLE of Fermanagh will make a case for bringing the railways back to the county.
The local community was urged to have its say on the current consultation on the All-Island Strategic Rail Review, which closed on Friday, January 21.
The consultation was launched by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon in the North and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan in the North in November. It is aimed at gathering feedback from the public across the country, but particularly in areas such as Fermanagh that no longer have any rail links, about how to shape and develop the future rail network across Ireland.
Minister Mallon said she believed the consultation had “massive potential to deliver multiple benefits across our island.”
“There are real opportunities for communities across Ireland and significant benefits that better connections could bring not just to people but also for our environment and economy,” she said.
“The All-Island Strategic Rail Review will help inform our decision making and investment in our rail network for years to come with the aim of improving it for everyone.”
Minister Mallon added: “This is a unique opportunity to shape the future of connectivity across Ireland and I’m looking forward to hearing from communities across our island on what we can do together to deliver lasting change across our country. This is your chance to have your say so please take it.”
Lobby group, Into the West, has urged as many people in the local area to respond to the consultation as possible. The group, which is campaigning to have the railways returned to Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone and Limavady, urged those responding to include its seven key requests.
These requests, which can be found in full on the group’s social media channels, include improving the current route from Derry to Belfast, connecting the North’s three airports to the rail network and, crucially to us here in Fermanagh, reconnecting Enniskillen to the rail network, northwards to Omagh and southwards to Sligo.
Chairman of Into the West, Steve Bradley, said the review was an important project as it was looking for the first time at the required improvements needed in connectivity across Ireland.
“We’ve all seen the map of the rail network in Ireland with that massive gap in the North-west corner, and public opinion is increasingly viewing that as no longer acceptable,” said Mr Bradley. “The strategy that comes out of this All-Ireland Review will hopefully determine ways in which that gap should be addressed.
“Into The West has identified seven key rail projects that would revolutionise connectivity across the west of Ulster. However – a lot of voices will be contributing to this consultation to call for improved rail in other parts of the island too.
“We want this to be the largest public consultation ever held across the island, and we want the west of Ulster to have the largest number of responses within it – leaving Stormont and Dublin in no doubt that the public demands the return of rail to Fermanagh and neighbouring counties”.
For more information on how to participate, and to read the policy objectives which frame the review, please visit: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-paper-all-island-strategic-rail-review
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