Deputy Michael Lowry: 'Thurles has progressed in many ways in the last couple of years'
Tipperary TD Michael Lowry has responded to comments by a Thurles councillor that the town had been left out of the €14m in funding for Climate Action Adapation and Active Traffic projects announced last week.
Tipperary received a total of €2.6m under both schemes.
Cllr Jim Ryan had called on Deputy Michael Lowry and Deputy Jackie Cahill to explain the absence of funding.
“Incredibly, Thurles is not receiving one cent of it,” said Cllr Ryan.
“We have two TDs in the town and I wouldn’t think there’s too many towns in Ireland that would have two TDs and to say that out of all that money the town they’re supposed to be representing hasn’t received a cent,” the Independent councillor told local radio.
Deputy Michael Lowry said this week that he didn’t accept that Thurles was being left behind.
“The facts are that Thurles has progressed in many ways in the last couple of years,” he said.
The Independent TD said that it was the responsibility of public representatives to “talk up” the town and not to be “dumping on it”.
It was important that the quality and attractiveness of Thurles should not be downplayed, he said.
Deputy Lowry said that Tipperary, including Thurles, had received its fair share of funding, so much so that he was receiving complaints from the public about the level of disruption being caused by developments.
In relation to the funding announced last week, Deputy Lowry pointed out that it had been targeted funding.
“There was a criteria involved and Thurles didn’t need to access it because the projects are already in the Thurles Development Plan,” he said.
It had been difficult to attract industry over the past 20 years, but that was going to change with the final connections within the town to the new €20m Regional Water Supply, which will be completed in the next two months.
The Thurles Development Plan would see €9.7m being spent, with €4.3m coming from the Exchequer, which Deputy Lowry said he had sourced and got a guarantee on, and over €5m from a budget fund set aside over the years by the former Thurles UDC.
“Cllr Ryan was a member of that council and he voted against it. He was steadfast in his opposition to set aside that money,” said Deputy Lowry. “His action is not helpful.”
Deputy Lowry said it was also important to remember that several streets had been resurfaced, footpath and lighting works carried out along with work on public amenities.
A new primary care centre was also being constructed on Mitchel Street, he said.
Before the February election, €5m had been given for 28 social houses on Mitchel Street, and a private developer was planning a new scheme with affordable housing, which, Deputy Lowry said, was a vote of confidence in the future of Thurles.
A new traffic management plan will see the development of Liberty Square and alleviate traffic.
“Thurles is choked with traffic,” he said.
Deputy Lowry said that the work on Liberty Square and the new street and car park would “bring new life back to the town”.
He said it would change the type of trading down on the square.
“However, while we want to hold on to what we have, it is important to attract consumers and give them what they want,” he said.
Thurles had benefited from the Jimmy Doyle Road, which was now an established walkway and the proposed €4m link from Erin Foods to Mill Road would benefit traffic, schools and walkers, especially on that side of the town, he said.
“There is still an outstanding piece of land to be purchased and when that is completed the project can go ahead,” he said.
Deputy Lowry said that, in his vew, Thurles was a great town with great potential.
The IDA was working to bring industry in, but that could happen until the infrastructure was in place, he said.