Action Needed Now – Minister Joe O’Brien calls on Fingal County Council to use unspent funding for walking and cycling routes

25th August, 2022

Minister Joe O’Brien and local Green Party Councillors have learned through figures released by the National Transport Authority (NTA) that 38% of funding made available for walking and cycling infrastructure in Fingal was underspent in 2021.

Minister O’Brien stated:

“In Fingal our local authority was allocated €14,870,000 for walking and cycling projects in the area for the year 2021. However, according to figures released by the NTA, only €9,078,639 of this was spent. We need to do better for our community.

It is understandable that the significant increase in funding since 2019 requires increased capacity, and there have been many additional challenges for our local authority during Covid. However, funding has also been provided for a new Travel Officer role, dedicated to local walking and cycling projects and we now need to start seeing faster progress.

As a result of decades prioritising cars in Ireland, many people in both rural and urban areas feel they have no option but to drive, even for short journeys. Since being in Government, the Green Party has been addressing this by delivering record increases in investment in walking and cycling projects, jumping from €45m in 2019 to €289m nationally in 2022.  These projects include new and improved pathways, cycleways, safe routes to schools and lighting.

Minister O’Brien continued:

“There is €25,535,000 allocated for Fingal in 2022. The money and the skills are there, now we need action. I’m asking the public to call on your local councillors, across every party, to help create a safer and more liveable community. It’s time to put people first.”

The transport sector represents approximately 18% of Ireland’s carbon emissions nationally, with road transport and private car usage carrying the most significant carbon footprint. Research indicates that an increase in walking and cycling could significantly reduce car use.

Green Party Councillor Karen Power stated:

There is so much potential in Ireland to get more people walking and cycling and reduce the congestion and air pollution we face on a daily basis. Kids should be able to walk and cycle to school safely. Taking a walk in your local community should be safe and enjoyable with good lighting and safe crossings. It is disappointing that a third of the funding provided to local authorities in the Greater Dublin Area including here in Fingal remains unspent.  In particular the community in Loughshinny are crying out for better active travel infrastructure, this unspent funding could go a long way to provide that. Let’s do better in 2022 and call on local authorities to get spending and make walking and cycling a priority.” 

Green Party Councillor David Healy stated:

Our top priority should be safety for children, yet the walking route from both newly-built and long-established houses to the two primary schools in Kinsealy is through a junction which Fingal County Council considers so unsafe that they won’t put a member of their staff on duty there as a school warden.”