A Donegal Senator has described the Derry to Aughnacloy stretch of the Dublin road as “dangerous and difficult” and urged the Irish government to ask for additional funding from the European Union for its upgrade.
Fianna Fáil Brian Ó Domhnaill said Dublin also needed to show greater commitment to the road project than that demonstrated by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2011, when as the Irish Transport Minister, he cut Dublin’s capital funding allocation for the A5 from €450 million to €50 million.
“I am glad to raise the issue of the A5 road project, which is an extension of the N2 project linking Derry and Letterkenny to Dublin.
“It has been in the pipeline for well over a decade and I am raising it this morning because a Fine Gael Deputy for Donegal recently said the Government was steadfast in its commitment to the project, but omitted to say that when the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, was Minister for Transport he reduced the capital funding allocation from €450 million to €50 million.
“I do not think that can be described as ‘steadfast commitment’ to the project on the part of the Fine Gael Government.
Despite his criticism of previous ministers,
“I am pleased that the current Minister, Deputy Ross, has made this project a priority but he is constrained by the decision taken by Deputy Varadkar when he was Minister.
“This project is vital to the north west region, particularly in light of Brexit and the constraints Brexit will bring to bear in Donegal.
“While we do not know the full implications of Brexit yet, it will certainly not be economically beneficial for the north west region.”
He said the standard of the Northern stretch of the Dublin to Derry road needed to be upgraded urgently.
“I travelled from Donegal last night, a dark dreary night, and the north part of the road, which is a stretch of some 42 miles, is dangerous and difficult to travel along.
“There is a need to provide the A5 project and I hope moneys can be found to meet the capital requirements of the project,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill.
The Falcarragh-native said Dublin should petition the EU for more money for the road.
“One might argue that the European Union was using Dublin to get at Britain, to some extent. Irrespective of that, there is a case to be made at European level, in the context of the peace process and concerns over Brexit, for additional moneys to be ring-fenced for capital infrastructure investment in Border regions, particularly in Donegal and particularly for this project,” he said.
Transport Minister Shane Ross reaffirmed Dublin’s commitment of £75 million for the A5 road upgrade to "ensure the first phase of the project, from Newbuildings to north of Strabane, could commence as soon as the necessary planning issues were resolved by the Northern Ireland authorities".
"Under the agreement it was envisaged that construction of phase 1 of the A5 would start in 2017, with a view to completion in 2019. In keeping with this timeline, Government funding was to be provided in three tranches of £25 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“However, the planning process in the North relating to the revised A5 scheme took longer than anticipated. The Northern Department for Infrastructure only announced the decision to proceed with the scheme in late November. It also indicated that the project would be ready to start in 2018,” he said.