Derry and Donegal rail, road and air link deficit a 'damning indictment' Dáil told

There have been calls in the Dáil for the development of proper rail and road connections between Dublin and 'the fourth largest city on the island, Derry.'

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 3:05 pm

A private members' motion tabled by Sinn Féin T.D. Rose Conway-Walsh on Tuesday welcomed the fact that the current strategic rail review is being completed on an all-island basis.

However, the motion complained that "the approach of successive Governments has failed rural Ireland and the downgrading of the North and Western regions from a ‘developed region’ to a ‘region in transition’ by the European Commission is an example of this".

Buncrana-based T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn bemoaned the serious 'deficit in infrastructure in the north west of Ireland'.

Calls for greater rail investment.

"There is no motorway network to the fourth largest city on the island, Derry, and County Donegal. There are about 500,000 people in the cross-Border region of west County Tyrone, County Donegal and County Derry. There is no rail connection and no motorway connection," he told MLAs.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn equally complained that Dublin was not doing enough to support City of Derry Airport.

"For the past ten years, the Government has starved the City of Derry Airport although 40% of the passengers who go through it come from Donegal. It has got no funding from the Government for the past ten years.

"Funding was removed when the Derry to Dublin airport link was taken down," he said.

Buncrana-based T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Fianna Fáil T.D. Dara Calleary called for complete transformation of the road and rail network in Ireland.

He said there should be a central spine down the island which could connect Co. Derry and Co. Kerry to Dublin.

"The context of waiting for an all-Ireland rail review for a project that has been reviewed so often is typical of the maximum administrative delay strategy. This works. It works not just in the context of the western rail corridor and the extension of the existing corridor to County Mayo and beyond, hopefully, but in the context of the all-island Atlantic economic corridor. If we are serious about regional development we will build a ballast to the east right from County Derry to County Kerry.

"It would be all-island and all-coastal, with a spine going down through it that has rail at its centre. This would be rail that is sustainable. It would be rail not just for freight but for passengers too. This will allow people to move off-road into a proper commuter rail service linking the west. It will link the cities of Galway and Sligo to communities for hospital services, education and day-to-day living," he said.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said the west was completely ill-served.

"There is no road or motorway infrastructure, no rail and no air connecting approximately half the county of Donegal and all of Derry. It is stunning. It is the same for electricity infrastructure.

"We have said this for many years. This motion is so important because we in the west and north west of Ireland do not have a motorway or rail connection joining up the west of Ireland. Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Derry and that huge mass of population in the west has no motorway connectivity for nearly all of it and no rail connectivity for a big part of it.

"That has to be the priority, but from reading the national development plan it is not at all clear to me that this Government gets the scale of the neglect of the west and north west of my county of Donegal, right down to Cork. It needs to be addressed and prioritised," he said.