The race to fill recently elected MEP Luke Ming Flanagan’s seat in Roscommon-South Leitrim cranked up a notch this week, writes Liam Cosgrove.
That’s after Emmett Corcoran, one of the nine candidates vying to fill the Roscommon man’s shoes raised suggestions of a midlands-based National Park.
Both the likes of Sliábh Ban in Roscommon and Mount Dillon outside Lanesboro were ripe for such a facility, he said.
The many towns and villages, the 18,000 acres of land covers, added to the presence of a narrow gauge railway and high calibre road network were further incentivising factors, added Mr Corcoran.
“The creation of a National Park brings huge potential for the social, economic, educational and environmental betterment of this area,” claimed the Rally Roscommon Movement founding member.
At just 22 years of age, Mr Corcoran, who calls himself “a serial entrepreneur”, believes the project could provide the springboard for toursim and jobs growth right across the midlands.
Promises too, of a fully equipped wind farm developed by Coillte, were further plus points, he contended.
“The possibility of linking Bord na Móna’s bogland project with Coillte’s amenity development on Sliabh Ban provides an opportunity to create a flagship National park project.
“Hotels, B&Bs and new tourism operators could flourish if the development went ahead,” he said.
Though currently boasting odds of around 40/1 to fill the void left by Mr Flanagan’s election to the European Parliament earlier this year, the Strokestown businessman remains intent on upsetting those disbelieving predictions.
Tourism and job creation are just two of the areas he hopes will win the hearts and minds of voters come election day on October 10.
“Every €30,000 of additional spend would mean the equivalent of one new job being created, which means we cannot afford to not invest in developing our tourism infrastructure,” he said.
It’s a mantra which seems to have garnered the support of another locally-based business mind, in the shape of Longford chartered accountant James Morgan.
The father of four and business consultant is no stranger to the political scene himself, having been a late entrant into the Longford-Westmeath by-election in May.
Though unsuccessful in that bid, Mr Morgan managed to pull in just shy of 6,000 first preferences.
Four months on, the Longford business guru has come out in support of Mr Corcoran’s ‘National Park’ blueprint.
“The plans hold huge potential to make the west midland region a serious contender in terms of national tourism,” he said.
But that’s not all the brains behind Longford’s N4 Axis Centre admitted to this week.
He also vowed to work more closely with Mr Corcoran on ensuring the proposal does not fall on deaf ears.
“Tourism will likely be the industry to lead rural Ireland out of the economic black hole it is in and that the opportunity for a project of this calibre to be developed in this region should be treated very seriously,” he added.
Now, the spotlight will inevitably fall on the relevant powers that be to determine whether such a proposal ultimately comes to pass.