Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Leo Varadkar has promised to discuss Durrow Abbey at a quarterly meeting he’s due to attend with the National Roads Authority (NRA) in the coming weeks.
The Minister and MEP Mairead McGuinness were met at the site just outside Tullamore this afternoon (Monday) by local public representatives and members of the Durrow High Cross committee who are keen to see the site developed into a top-class tourist facility.
Planning permission to add visitor and parking facilities to the attraction has long been given by Offaly County Council, but money is currently unavailable to complete road works on the N52 that are a condition of that planning permission.
Speaking to Minister Varadkar today chairperson of the Durrow High Cross committee Helen Bracken said hundreds of people are visiting the popular site even without signage or promotion due to road safety issues.
“The possibilities for tourism are huge,” she explained.
Minister Varadkar promised no immediate funding for the project, explaining that with road budgets down 35-80 per cent the priority now is maintenance and restoration.
“I don’t know when that will change,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to make promises he couldn’t keep.
He did, however, commit to adding the issue to the agenda of a meeting he’s due to have with the CEO of the NRA in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said a meeting she attended with NRA and OPW representatives last week included a commitment from both bodies to work together on the issue, with the OPW promising to look afresh at access issues and see if an alternative plan can be formed.