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Irish Examiner - 08/09/05
Bertie’s fast-track approach is sending the country off the rails

TRAVELLING around Ireland in summertime is a very pleasant activity beset by relatively few annoyances.

Yet I'm sure many people will share what for me is one of those annoyances the frequent sight of the abandoned and derelict fragments of our once extensive railway system.

That these remaining (and now near useless) fragments are silent, compelling evidence of the engineering ingenuity and the hard labour that Irishmen put themselves to in order to provide a system of communication arteries for their country makes the subsequent govern-mental (and I do mean govern-mental) decision to discard and destroy such a system all the more galling. However, I can console myself that such dreadful errors of strategic thought and action by government are now in the realm of history.

Surely, no contemporary government, with its many agencies for strategic planning and implementation, could ignore the usefulness of our remaining railway infrastructure?

Then I heard our Taoiseach speak on radio of his determination to 'fast-track' the planning process for the building of new waste incinerators and I was struck by the irony of his words.

Ireland is a country of just four million the population of a reasonably sized European city where policy documents speak of a determination to recycle the greater part of its waste. Surely only one centrally located incinerator is needed to burn the un-recyclable remnant left when those policies are fully implemented, and certainly the safest and best way to transport that easily bulked material is on the under-utilised rail network rather than in thousands of heavy lorries on our over-full roads. But in a blackly ironic testament to our national unawareness of the usefulness of rail, our Taoiseach can blithely speak of 'fast-tracking' incinerator planning while the incinerators are planned to be built without any regard to tracks at all.

Stan Reynolds
The Old Schoolhouse
Toames West
Co Cork


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
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