Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross was in Drogheda on Friday and in a meeting with local councillors, was told about local issues currently at the forefront of local concern in Ardee – including the continued closure of Ardee Castle and the need for an N52 bypass.
The Independent Alliance leader visited Louth and fulfilled a longstanding commitment to a meeting with Independent councillors Jim Tenanty and Kevin Callan, in which the duo highlighted issues that currently blight Ardee and the greater Mid-Louth area.
Ardee Castle, as well as the Tholsel building in Drogheda, is currently the subject of Failte Ireland application for funding, which was applied for the Failte Ireland Large Grants Scheme via Louth County Council last summer. A decision on their funding hopes is due later this month.
Speaking after the meeting, councillors Callan and Tenanty said that they feel they have a responsibility to seek to use their access to Minister Ross to bring his attention to the current status of Ardee Castle and a number of other local issues including the necessity for a western bypass of the town.
“We have had a very good briefing where we have informed the Minister of the issues in Mid-Louth and in the coming weeks and months we will be liaising closely with him,” Callan said afterwards.
“Funding is needed to bring Ardee Castle back to life and to put it back at the heart of the community. Myself and Cllr Tenanty will not allow any chance we have to fight for this to happen to pass,” Callan continued.
The two locally based Independent councillors had been seeking a meeting with Ross since last Spring, when they felt that Ross’ appointment as Transport Minister could benefit Ardee and give them an avenue of communication to a top level member of the cabinet.
Ross has previously spoken out on the subject of the proposed Ardee N52 western bypass – saying that no funding would be made available for work to start on the N52 bypass due to it not being included in the 2015-2021 capital funding programme.
However, having the ear of the Minister responsible for tourism could be a boost to hopes for work to progress on Ardee Castle.
Any funding from from Failte Ireland would be in addition to the €1.2 million the council earmarked for the project in 2015. €200,000 of that was due to be spent in 2016, with the rest of the money raised by development levies and spent over the next few years.
LCC chief executive Joan Martin told the meeting that only about €50,000 of that money has been used so far in the planning process – as of last July – as the project has been slower to get off the ground than it was hoped.