The Minister for Rural & Community Affairs Michael Ring has defended his decision to allocate a second grant late last year to the velo-rail tourism project in Kiltimagh.
In December, the Mayo-based Minister announced €118,000 for the project, which is being developed by Kiltimagh Tourism Committee and Kiltimagh IRD, with support from Mayo County Council.
However, this decision was questioned in an article in last weekend’s Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday.
The article says Minister Ring allocated the funding to the project in his own constituency, despite warnings from civil servants that it could set “problematic precedents”, with one official saying the Mayo project appeared to have the least merit of four projects that were seeking extra funding.
The Kiltimagh velo-rail project is the first of its kind in Ireland or the UK, and will see the development of 12 km of disused railway track.
Velo-Rail is an outdoor recreational activity using small rail-mounted pedal-propelled vehicles to move along the disused railway line, and is popular in the French countryside where several railway lines had fallen into disuse.
Speaking to Midwest News this evening, Minister Ring has taken issue with the journalist who wrote the article in the Sunday papers, and insists it’s his job as Minister to make decisions in relation to the allocation of funding, while also outlining his support for the Kiltimagh project.