West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Doherty hits out Sammy Wilson's A5 comments

Published: 25 March, 2013

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has issued a stinging rebuke to comments made by Assembly Finance Minister Sammy Wilson that the £330m allocated by the Executive for the construction A5 dual carriageway project should be allocated elsewhere.

Pat Doherty said,

"While Sammy is entitled to his express his personal opinion he thankfully does not have the power to unilaterally overturn the decision of the Assembly Executive to ring-fence £330m towards the construction A5 dual carriageway. This Executive decision has not changed.

"Sammy can think out loud if he wants, but the Executive decision to ring-fence funding for the first two phases from Newbuildings to Strabane and from Omagh to Ballygawley was based on a firm recognition of just how strategically important the development of the A5 is in providing the necessary road infrastructure to underpin much-needed economic regeneration in this part of Ireland as well as how crucial it is to transforming road safety.

"The decision as to whether these two phases proceed as scheduled rests with the high court judge on the 12th April after he hears the DRD submission response to his finding that the Department did not carry out an appropriate habitats directive. Hopefully this submission will ensure that the environmental concerns of the High Court are satisfactorily addressed.

"Given the Judge has dismissed all the other grounds of objection to the A5 proceeding, I think it inconceivable that the entire project and particularly the immediate benefit of hundreds constructions jobs, could be stalled on this one issue.

Adding his comments local councillor Sean Begley said:

"Sammy Wilson is attempting to frustrate a huge infrastructural investment west of the Bann, just like previous Unionist Governments in Stormont with their decision to remove the railways.

"This project would see a massive investment of many millions of pounds to an area poorly served through generations and would link this part of the country up with the Capital, Dublin.

"It would furthermore provide a huge boost to the construction industry at a very challenging economic time and provide the area with a large number of jobs in its construction stage alone.

"The project has the support of the executive in Belfast, as well as many local authorities, including Omagh District Council and whilst Sammy is entitled to his personal opinion, it remains that, his personal opinion, not that of the executive.