Mr Kenny was speaking after his recent visit to the Corrib gas pipeline tunnelling site at Aughoose, in North Mayo.

Mr Kenny received presentations on the tunnel as well as an overview of the environmental management of the facility.

The 4.9 Km Corrib tunnel, which will be longer than the Dublin Port Tunnel when completed, has recently reached the 3.5 Km mark.

The Taoiseach was taken on a tour of the compound and the tunnel shaft by the Tunnel Manager, Paul Hughes and met with many of the workers on site.

The visit, which took place on Saturday, 22 February, lasted for two and a half hours and overlapped with a Community Tour of the site which provided Mr Kenny with the opportunity to meet with local people on the tour and exchange views with them.

Following the visit, Mr Kenny acknowledged the contribution which the project was making to the local economy. “This is a very exciting project. It involves high-end engineering and the emphasis on health and safety is remarkable. The Corrib gas project has involved an enormous financial investment in North Mayo and has contributed significantly to the economy, especially in terms of local employment with up to 500 locals employed for the past number of years,” he said.

SEPIL Managing Director, Michael Crothers, who hosted the visit, was pleased with the level of engagement. “It was a pleasure to welcome An Taoiseach to Aughoose. Mr Kenny has been kept up to date on the progress of the project and has shown a keen interest in the tunnelling operation. We’re honoured that he took the time to come and see the tunnel site for himself, and especially that he had the opportunity to engage with so many local workers and community members, who were surprised and delighted to meet him.”