13/02/2019

Political Deadlock To Blame For A5 Development Setback- SDLP

An SDLP MLA has blamed the political impasse at Stormont for the Irish Government's decision to redirect €27 million that had been earmarked for a huge cross-border road project.

Ministers in the Republic had allocated the money to the long-awaited upgrade of the A5 road which connects Dublin and L'derry, in a project jointly funded by Stormont.

But the Irish Government has since decided to redirect the money to fund a shortfall linked to the massive overspend at the National Children's Hospital which is currently under construction in Dublin.

The Department for Transport insisted its financial commitment to the A5 scheme won't be affected, but a delay in the project has allowed the money to be moved.

Following the revelations, west Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan, said the lack of political progress caused by the Stormont deadlock is to blame, and urged the Department for Infrastructure to press ahead immediately.

Northern Ireland's powersharing institutions have been suspended since January 2017.
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Mr McCrossan said: "This news shows the very real out workings of having no Executive and no Minister in place. The A5 Scheme is vitally important for the North West and West of this province. It will save countless lives while increasing the economic situation for businesses and individuals alike. The implications of having no Stormont in place is the reason why this funding has been withheld."

The MLA, who recently replaced Claire Hanna as the SDLP's Brexit spokesperson, said that Sinn Fein and the DUP, the parties with the two biggest mandates, have abandoned the public rather than delivering on important matters.

"The Irish Government can see the ridiculousness of the two problem parties who are holding us back," he continued.

"The failure of Sinn Féin and the DUP to end their self-imposed standoff is hurting our communities, north and south, and it needs to end.

"This money was originally cut from £400 million to £75 million for the scheme. Now it is being withheld. Dublin cannot continue to abandon the people of the North and that is the message I will be giving to them.

"I have spoken with senior Departmental officials who state they are still fully committed to delivering the A5 scheme and remain confident of starting work in Autumn 2019."



(JG/CM)

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