Donegal TD Padraig MacLochlainn has said it’s time to sort out the Cockhill Bridge “mess, once and for all.”
Deputy MacLochlainn was speaking after receiving the latest response from the Minister for Transport on the issue of the bridge.
He has now called upon Donegal County Council to convene a meeting of Donegal TDs and Inishowen County Councillors along with senior council engineers in order to agree a joint approach on Cockhill Bridge.
Deputy MacLochlainn described the current situation as a political “mess” that needs to be “sorted out once and for all.”
He said: “There are two separate issues that have been allowed to be conflated; a new bridge over Crana River, further downstream from the existing Cockill Bridge and a pedestrian footbridge at the existing Cockill Bridge. When the new bridge is funded and built, the local community will still require a footbridge at Cockhill Bridge to safely access local amenities.”
He added: “All local public representatives need to make the case to Government for the new bridge and indeed, I understood that local Fine Gael public representatives had been giving assurances that Government funding would be forthcoming. I have called on them to clarify this but to no avail.
“In relation to the footbridge, a substantial amount of money was secured towards the construction of the footbridge from a local developer as a planning condition attached to the building of homes at Clonbeg. This money was wrongly diverted and spent on the plans for the new bridge. This money should be redeployed to the construction of a footbridge and matched with new funding from Donegal County Council. The local community at Cockhill has been failed for too long”
He concluded: “I am calling on Donegal County Council to immediately convene a meeting of the three TDs for Donegal North East and the nine County Councillors in Inishowen along with senior council engineers so that we can agree on joint approach to funding these two separate pieces of infrastructure”.
In response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Deputy MacLochlainn, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe said the department had been in contact with Donegal County Council to ascertain the “up to date position” on possible traffic management measures.
He said: “The Department understands from the Council that a number of options were prepared for Cockhill Bridge over a number of years including a new bridge, bridge widening, one-way traffic, a new footbridge and the installation of traffic lights and associated measures. The Department also understands that these options were presented to both the Buncrana Council and the Inishowen Area Council Elected Members but members did not favour pursuing options other than a new bridge. It is now a matter for the Council to decide if it wishes to pursue with the Department one of the options other than the new bridge. If the Council wishes to pursue the new bridge option it can of course do so through using its own resources both for design and construction.”