West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Roads Minister must provide timeline for A5 dual carriageway

Published: 9 January, 2014

As we enter the New Year with the A5 Dual Carriageway project delayed due to environmental assessments, it is essential that DRD Minister Danny Kennedy makes a clear statement outlining his department's revised timeline for the way forward. During 2013, the A5 was consistently kept on the agenda at Stormont and Leinster House. It is important to re-state that this project remains an Executive priority and the Irish government have pledged to contribute £50 million in the 2015/16 period. This commitment was re-affirmed most recently at the North/South Ministerial Council Transport sector meeting held in Armagh on 28th November. Benefits The economic, social and safety benefits of the dual carriageway are well documented. This is particularly felt at this time of year as thousands of our young people climb back on the aeroplanes for transport around the globe for work opportunities that do not exist at home. Whilst the 88km dual carriageway will create almost 1000 jobs during its construction, the longer term potential in terms of inward investment, economic regeneration and job creation is much greater. We were sadly reminded of the dangers of the existing road during the week as 2 people have sadly lost their lives and many are injured on the A5. The community's thoughts and prayers are with the deceased people and their families at this terrible time. North-South and European network Whilst the new A5 dual carriageway will help to reduce journey times and make travelling safer, recent correspondence I received from the Minister recognised the wider European importance of the project as well as the north/south link. In his response, the Minister confirmed that the A5 and A4 are part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The objective of TEN-T is to develop a transport system across the EU for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. Both of these routes are designated as part of the comprehensive network. The A5 dual carriageway is also a key corridor which will connect the North West to Dublin and Belfast. The Minister confirmed that his department is working with its counterpart, the National Roads Authority (NRA) in the south to deliver the project. This has involved setting up technical working groups for the A5/N2 and the A4/N14 border interfaces. The technical groups comprise representatives of DRD, NRA, Monaghan and Donegal County councils and the key objective is to ensure coordination and consistency between jurisdictions on this project. Delivery Towards the end of 2013, I received confirmation from the Minister that public consultation exercises will commence in Spring 2014. The Minister also stated that a review of the Environmental Statement (ES) has taken place and an addendum to the ES will be published. I understand that this will also be subject to a public consultation and there is a strong likelihood of a public inquiry. Next steps The A5 dual carriageway project is a hugely important lifeline for the development of the west and the North West of Ireland. We must ensure that this project continues to feature prominently on the agenda at Stormont and in Leinster House. This involves both Ministers and the respective roads authorities on the island participating in robust discussion and project planning. It is essential that the necessary assessments relating to the EU Habitats Directive are thoroughly and competently addressed and that the DRD Minister provides an indicative timeline for the construction of this project. We have waited long enough for construction to start on the A5 Dual carriageway; it is time for the Minister to outline his department's plans and project milestones.