‘Use bailout cash for A2’

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The repayment of the UK’s £3.2bn bailout of the bankrupt Republic of Ireland in 2010 should be poured into a ‘Border Bank’ and used to widen the Buncrana Road.

That’s according to the SDLP’s Brian Tierney, who backed a motion tabled by his Sinn Féin constituency colleague, Caoimhe McKnight, at the council’s monthly meeting for April, demanding delivery of the road-widening.

Colr. McKnight proposed that the council “impress on the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) the importance of the A2 Buncrana Road as an economic driver for the entire North West Region”.

She further moved that the council “engage at the highest level with the DfI to impress on it that all funding avenues be exhausted to ensure the development of the A2 Buncrana Road is completed”.

The widening of the northern most section of the longest road in the North, which runs from Newry to Derry before branching off to join both the R238 at Muff and the N13 at Bridgend, has been hampered by funding delays for years despite approval having been obtained for the preferred route as far back as 2009.

Colr. McKnight said that following recent progress on the A5 and A6 road projects it was imperative the A2 was delivered as a matter of urgency.

She said progressing the road scheme would complement recent improvements on the A515 from the Madam’s Bank Road through to Skeoge, which has vastly improved links into Donegal.

She cautioned, however, that the roll-out of the scheme needed to take account of the views of the residents of the wider Pennyburn and Buncrana Road area who may be disrupted by the road wideing.

Independent councillor Darren O’Reilly echoed these concerns over the potential impact of the road scheme, which have been raised by residents as well as local businesses anxious over a potential loss of earnings.

Colr. Tierney said the improvement of the road was the only way of easing traffic congestion in the area, before suggesting a novel way of raising the required £50 to £60m it’s been estimated will be needed to widen the road.

He said the £3.2bn sum advanced to Dublin from London in a bilateral loan in 2010 should be channelled into a new ‘Border Bank’, which would act as a North-South structural fund, and help boost infrastructural investment in the border region, including in Derry.

Colr. McKnight’s motion was approved unanimously.