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Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon took time out of her busy schedule last week to engage with local stakeholders on the provision of Active Transport infrastructure in Newry City. The meeting Chaired by Cllr Charlie Casey was requested by community group Newry 2020 and organised through Newry DEA (District Electoral Area)

A £20M Blue/ Green fund has been set up by the DFI for active travel projects within councils and presently Newry, Mourne and Down Council are working with the Department for Infrastructure to investigate potential schemes.

Newry DEA representatives were joined by local MLA's and Councillor's along with Newry Chamber of Commerce, Newry BID, Confederation of Community Groups, representatives of Sustrans, Department for Infrastructure and Department for Communities along with representatives from Newry Urban Sports, Newry 2020 and Inland Waterways of Ireland Newry and Portadown. also took part in the meeting.

Items discussed included the provision of a cycle path/ walkway between Newry Canal and the Clanrye River that would link the Carlingford Lough Greenway and Newry Canal Towpath, thus creating a single path all the way from Carlingford to Portadown and onwards to Lough Neagh. Existing footpaths and cycle paths were also discussed as well as parking challenges.

Minister Mallon spoke of the importance of maximising the opportunities for active travel for health and well-being, leisure and tourism.

Brian Cleland, Newry 2020 talked about the huge opportunity there is to link the towpath to the greenway to form a 'green spine' linkage through Newry City, a 'super greenway' that has been talked about for 20 years and more. Speaking about the benefits of the link Brian said. "It connects greenways north and south and also provides linkages from the new Park into the city centre."
The presently blocked path running between Newry Canal and the Clanrye River was suggested as a potential route to link the Carlingford Lough Greenway with the Newry Canal Towpath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
The presently blocked path at the side of the Newry Town Hall which runs between Newry Canal and the Clanrye River was suggested as a potential route to link the Carlingford Lough Greenway with the Newry Canal Towpath. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

Eamonn Connolly from Newry BID spoke of BID's full support for active travel and sustainable transport and spoke of their support for local initiatives and ongoing progress with the provision of parklets in Newry. Eamonn added that the main challenges locally were parking and the lack of a public park.

Emma Mullen-Marmion from Newry Chamber of Commerce also spoke of the proposed Albert Basin Park as a hub for north/ south connectivity.

Justin McNulty MLA commented about the spectacular beauty of Newry as seen on the recent RTE Iarnrod Enda programme and said that a linkage between towpath and greenway would be amazing for the city.

Speaking of Newry's USP - a waterway city, surrounded by the Clanrye and the Canal, James McConville, Newry Urban Sports emphasised that any linkage groute has to go along the waterways.

Columba O'Hare, also stressed what he saw as the importance of linking up the two existing cycle paths from Warrenpoint Road and from Armagh Road to the proposed greenway/ towpath link.

Columba pointed out that both paths stopped before actually reaching the City, but that it would be relatively easy to do a fix for both of them, so that anyone working out at Greenbank or Fiveways or pupils at Our Lady's, St Joseph's and St Colman's could travel from one end of Newry to the other end safely via a cycle path. "The ultimate aim is that Children will be able to cycle to school or to the shops on their own, without any bother. At present there is nowhere safe in Newry for people to cycle." He said.

Columba suggested that in the short term wands could be put along the Armagh Road to separate the cycle way that is there already.

Raymond Jackson, Confederation of Community Groups spoke of the importance of getting people out of cars and walking and Cllr Michael Savage added that he believed that Newry truly is on the cusp of great things and that active travel plans would contribute to that.
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