Eastwood: Roads won’t be built on more empty promises and spin

SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood  MLA.
SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood MLA.

The leader of the SDLP and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood says that infrastructure west of the Bann has been neglected through years of empty promises and calls for real commitment in Executive spending, not vague statements.

Mr Eastwood said: “This latest announcement of funding for the A5 and A6 is more of the same-old empty electioneering promises and disingenuous spin. I welcome the financial commitments in year one but there are none beyond that.

“We hear the easy lines that this Budget will enable both roads to be built and if it did, we would be in a very different place. But the facts speak for themselves.

“The Budget in year one allocates £100m for the flagship capital projects which include the A5 and A6, Belfast Rapid Transport and the Mother and Children’s Hospital. Yet £100m is only enough to complete the Rapid Transport Scheme.

“These projects combined go into the billions and yet there is no allocation for the funding required to see them through, only projections. We have been here before and heard many empty promises. The Executive agreed in 2007 to proceed with the A5 and A6 and in 2011 the DSD Minister allocated more than £100m to the Derry to Dungiven stretch alone. Yet almost ten years later, we travel every day on the same poor, not fit-for-purpose roads.

“Nowhere is the need for real sustainable investment in infrastructure more obvious than in Derry and the north west. The SDLP identified funding for infrastructure which should be secured through the appropriate allocation of Barnett Consequentials from Westminster, however Sinn Fein and the DUP failed to capitalise on this. Once again in this ill-conceived Budget we are seeing a lack of commitment to these badly needed projects.”