Westport groups call for car-free Sundays “in solidarity with Ukraine”

A letter requesting car-free Sundays in Westport has been sent by a range of community groups to Mayo County Council chief executive Kevin Kelly.

The groups said the initiative “won’t end this invasion” but could highlight that the invasion of Ukraine is being financed by Russia’s exports of fossil fuels, and that the climate crisis is a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels.

The groups who have signed the letter are: Decarbonise Westport, Westport Tidy Towns, Westport Chamber of Commerce, Westport Eco Congregation, Destination Westport, The Quay Community Garden, Westport Library Garden, Leave No Trace, The Edible Landscape Project, and 15-Minute Westport.

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The groups said that Mayo councillors, Cllr Peter Flynn and Cllr Christy Hyland, also support for the initiative.

International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organisation established to advise on the 1970s oil crisis, published its ‘10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use’ and included car-free Sundays for larger cities, but the Westport groups said, as an issue of solidarity, the Mayo town should take the same action.

In a joint statement, the groups said that they were not calling for the entire town to be closed to motor traffic, but are asking for the “full or partial closure” of some central Westport streets “for a meaningful period of time every Sunday”.

Kieran Ryan, a spokesperson for 15-Minute Westport, said: “We are horrified by the death and destruction which has been unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s war machine is funded by the sale of fossil fuels, so every action we can take to reduce our use of fossil fuels will help in some small way to undermine Russia’s capacity to wage war.”

He added: “Car-free Sundays won’t end this invasion, but it is one method of expressing our solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”

Heather O’Reilly, a spokesperson for Decarbonise Westport, said: “Car-free Sundays are a way of highlighting the need to take immediate action on Climate Change. We are aiming to reduce our carbon emissions by 51% by 2030 and we cannot achieve that by continuing with business as usual.”

She added: “We need to rethink how we travel and how we use public space in our urban areas. Car-free streets will enable and encourage more people to walk and cycle in Westport instead of automatically hopping into the car for short trips within the town.”

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2 comments

  1. Great Initiative! Lets hope it gets traction…..and maybe encourages other towns in a similar direction! If Dublin City can do it full time on a busy commercial street such as Capel St, and make a success of it, why not other Irish towns!?

    Reply

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