Fears civil servants are powerless on A5

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Concerns have been raised that the absence of a roads minister could slam the brakes on the long-awaited Derry to Dublin A5 dual carriageway.

The SDLP have expressed doubts over whether or not the project can proceed after unhinered after Judge Siobhan Keegan, in an unrelated case, ruled civil servants did not have the power to approve a the Arc21 incinerator in Mallusk.

Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan suggested the ruling may have implications for the A5.

He said it “raised many questions around decision making in the absence of a minister”, while the party’s infrastructure spokesperson, Sinead Bradley, said “it is extremely disheartening to see projects such as the A5 and North-South Interconnector on hold because of the continued inability of political parties to work together”.

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle, however, said the A5 was approved by the former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard while he was still in post.

“The A5 is a very different scenario to Arc 21. A clear written Ministerial decision and direction on the entire A5 was signed and given to the Permanent Secretary by Minister Chris Hazzard before the collapse of the institutions. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason why this road should not proceed as planned following the resolution of the current court case,” she said.

In the incinerator case last week Justice Keegan ruled DfI did not have legal power to make a decision with no minister in place.