Varadkar talks spark Longford regeneration funding hopes

Varadkar talks spark Longford regeneration funding hopes

Independent Alliance TD Kevin Boxer Moran has given the strongest indication yet of a sizeable state backed announcement being made towards the planned regeneration of Longford town.

 

Mr Moran, together with his four other Alliance TD’s, have been locked in talks with Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar for the past four days in the hope of reaffirming their commitment to the minority government.

The recently appointed OPW Minister described the discussions as being “very positive” as Mr Varadkar closes in on becoming the country’s 14th taoiseach today (Wednesday).

One of the main reasons for that sense of buoyancy centred on a number of items of interest the former Westmeath county councillor received assurances over.

Among them included plans to upgrade the N4 motorway, the extension of air ambulance services to include night service provision and proposals to enhance Longford’s lakelands appeal.

An agreement was similarly reached to “fastrack” two of Mr Moran’s own legislative reforms, namely the Keeping People in Their Homes Bill 2017 and the Criminal Justice (Commission of Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2017.

The latter proposes to amend the law to deal with convicted sexual offenders who go on to commit further and more serious crimes while the latter aims to tackle Ireland’s repossessions crisis.

“These are two bills that I have been working on for quite some time which Leo (Varadkar) has been supportive of,” he said.

“I am hoping that they will now be scrutinised by the AG’s (Attorney General) office so we can get them fastracked through in the summer.”

But it is arguably Mr Moran’s reference to what may be coming down the line concerning Longford’s well documented regeneration project which will prompt plenty of local interest.

The Athlone based father of two revealed he has been in close contact with Longford Cllr Gerry Warnock over the issue, plans which the Taoiseach in waiting was also briefed about.

“I am working on a certain project for Longford town and I told him (Mr Varadkar) what I am looking for and what I want,” he added.

Mr Moran prefaced those remarks nonetheless, saying it was too early to comment further until something more substantive was in the pipeline.

“Since becoming Minister (for the OPW) flooding has and will be at the forefront. That’s my job and while I may be a Westmeath man, I am a Longford-Westmeath man.

“That’s what I was elected as and that is what I will continue to do, to represent the interests of both counties to the best of my ability,” he said.