Donegal delight as A5 project gets massive boost

Donegal North East’s three TD have spoken with one voice in warmly welcoming the decision of the Northern Ireland Executive to commit £330m. funding to the development of the A5 dual carriageway project which will help link Derry- Donegal with Dublin.

However, Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue and Sinn Fein’s Padraig MacLochlainn have both urged the Irish Government to recommit to funding the project to ensure it is ‘fully completed’.

Deputy McConalogue said it was vital that this would be the case.

Speaking after the project was given the go-ahead he said: “This is the single most important infrastructure for the future of the region and for ensuring that it can develop economically in coming years. Thankfully, today’s announcement will see the work on the A5 dual Carraigeway start on two stretches of road between Derry and Strabane and between Ballygawley and Omagh, and will see approximately 37km of the total projects 88 kilometres completed by 2016.”

But he was not happy with the Coalition government’s funding withdrawal: “The future of the project rested on the approach taken by the Northern Ireland Executive after the Fine Gael/Labour Government withdrew from its funding commitment. It is great news that Stormont remains committed to the project over the next four years and it is vital that all efforts are now made to ensure the project will be completed in full. The Northern Executive is now spending less on this than they had initially planned. This is as a direct result of this Government breaking its part of the bargain this year. In his speech to the Assembly today, Minister Sammy Wilson commented that the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s decision to cut the original contribution left the Executive with “no choice but to reconsider how to take forward capital investment in the affected years”.

The Inishowen TD said Minister Wilson also said that he wouldn’t be giving any further assurances on additional stretches of the road commencing without further commitments from Dublin.

“In light of developments today, I am urging the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to commit to a new timeline and funding arrangement so that the A5 project can be completed in full. It would be a shame to thrown away years of hard work and cooperation on a project that’s of such huge economic importance to the North West.”

Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn said the announcement was good news on many fronts: “A lot of work has been done behind the scenes by Sinn Féin led by Martin McGuinness to ensure that this infrastructure project is delivered.  I want to congratulate him on today’s announcement.

“This is a welcome boost for Donegal and the whole Northwest.  It will open up the Northwest, cut travelling times and make the region more attractive for business and tourism.  It will also create thousands of jobs during the construction phase of the project.

Joe McHugh TD said that the announcement proves the strength of the North-South relationship today, and that the A5 upgrades will greatly enhance Donegal access.

Deputy McHugh said: “ For the Northern Ireland Executive, which will channel majority funding into this project over the next four years, this is a massive leap of faith. That leap of faith is an indication of the excellent work that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD has personally done to secure this project, at a time of very scarce resources. I know that he consistently said that the A5 would go ahead, and he continued to communicate with the Leaders of the Northern Ireland Executive on the matter.

He added: “The Irish Government’s ambition is to restore the economic independence that was conceded in 2010 to the European Central Bank and the IMF. Restoration of our economic sovereignty will put the Irish Government in a strong position to deliver the final stretches of this road - from Omagh to Strabane, and from Lifford to Letterkenny. I will continue to work with colleagues in Government and with political colleagues in Northern Ireland, to ensure that progress is made .”