A5 is vital for Donegal’s future - McConalogue

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Fianna Fail’s Charlie McConalogue says he’s ‘very disappointed’ with the lack of commitment to the A5 project - that would see Dublin and Donegal linked by a dual carriageway - following last Friday’s North-West ministerial council meeting.

Speaking with the ‘Journal’ the Inishowen TD said if the Irish government didn’t meet its obligation to the project it would be gone for a generation.

“I honestly don’t believe people are aware of how vital this piece of infrastructure is to Donegal. It is critical for our long term economic relevance in terms of employment, investment and tourism. If we don’t get this we will be at a significant disadvantage for at least a generation to come.”

Mr. McConalogue said the project had originally got a troika of funding - the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“This was a once in a lifetime deal - it’ll never happen again.

“Work was supposed to start next year and be finished by 2015. There are three separate contracts signed and work in the north can start, but whether it will is now open to debate.

“The reality is that our government has pulled out of the deal. They are saying they’ll provide 25m. in 2015 and another 25m in 2016 but this is well short of the original 400m.

“The Irish government has taken itself out of the leadership loop on this project and now it’s likely that it won’t go ahead as planned.”

Stating that if the spin from the government now was about upgrading the existing road then the project was finished.

“The proposed A5 dual carriageway is a totally different project altogether from the current roadway so if the talk is about fixing up the existing road then the project is gone.

“They are also talking about asking civil servants to discuss how sources of funding can be found to complete the project.

“This, to me, indicates there is no real commitment by the ministers; ministers make decisions, civil servants discuss, and if the ministers are handing it over to the civil servants then it suggests that it is not going to happen.”

He went on: “When they talk about sourcing funding they need to specify where they are getting that funding from. There is no pot of gold out in Europe for projects like this right now.

“The only place there is money is what the British and Irish governments can provide. Instead of going on some sort of treasure hunt across Europe the government should prioritise this project.

“There is no point in the government soft soaping people by telling them they are still commited to this project. This just spin, letting people down gently.”

The North’s First Minister, Peter Robinson said the Northern Executive was still commited to the project and were anxious that it still go ahead. He told the meeting: “We recognise this as being a flagship project for the north west and we want to see that it happens.