Assembly A5 Debate 'Muddies Waters'

Confusion remains this week on the fate of the proposed A5 road dualling project that has to date been dogged by controversy.

Sinn Fein's Assembly Group Leader, Raymond McCartney yesterday called on the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Department of Regional Development Minister (DRD) to give an assurance that there will be no dilution of the project or delay in its completion.

As the matter came to the Assembly floor for debate, Raymond McCartney insisted the multi-million pound construction cross-border project should be going forward as originally envisaged.

Later, Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA Lord Morrow also called upon the DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to clarify his stance on plans for the A5 between Aughnacloy and Londonderry.

Speaking after the debate Lord Morrow attached the Minister and said: "The UUP attempted to use the proposed plans for the A5 as a political weapon prior to the Assembly election and it is deeply unfortunate that the new Minister Danny Kennedy has continued that practice."

He said that the UUP principle of dualling the whole A5 was agreed previously, but in recent months had U-turned to claim they were absolutely opposed to the construction of any dual carriageway along the route.

"Now, Mr Kennedy re-stated his Department's, and therefore his position that their long-term goal was to see a dual carriageway right along the route of the A5.

"We now need to hear once and for all what the UUP and the Minister's view actually is," continued the DUP peer and MLA.

"Since the outset of this process the DUP has argued that traffic volumes, and recent upgrade works carried out mean that no improvements can be justified on the section of the A5 between Aughnacloy and Ballygawley.

"I welcome that the Minister has now come on board with this view and outlined clearly his opinion that this section of road does not merit upgrade to dual carriageway standard.

"However, whilst Mr Kennedy was able to give his view on one section of the road he attempted to 'hide behind' the ongoing public inquiry for not stating clearly his opinion on what should happen with the overall A5 scheme.

"When Mr Kennedy was able to outline a view on this section of the road there is absolutely no reason why he could not have offered greater clarity on his views about the rest of the proposed route from Ballygawley to Newbuildings. This is yet another mixed message emanating from the UUP," said the politician.

"It is incumbent now on Danny Kennedy to end the uncertainty which those people face and actually tell them what his plans are for the A5," he said, as the beleaguered building trade also waits for news of a much needed fillip.

See: Politicians 'Not On One Road' Over A5


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