Belfast Telegraph

Police body 'is trying to revive cancelled A5 upgrade', claims Green Party

liam clarke

A POLICING and Community Safety Partnership has come under fire from the Green Party for campaigning to revive the abandoned A5 dual carriageway.

It has emerged Omagh PCSP wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin and the Department for Regional Development in Belfast, asking for the Londonderry-Aughnacloy Road to be built to prevent traffic accidents.

Ciaran McClean of the Greens claimed it acted outside its powers. However, UUP councillor Allan Rainey, a retired farmer and PCSP member, argued the present road was unsafe for tractors and that there were collisions when drivers got frustrated. He wants the £330m dual carriageway reinstated to take the fast traffic away from the existing road.

"I live on the A5 and six or eight years ago they put in an overtaking lane past my entrance. You really need your wits about you – if you are on the single lane and have to cross the two lanes, that is a nightmare," said Mr Rainey.

The minutes of the PCSP meeting state Mr Rainey "expressed concern at the lack of progress in relation of the upgrade to the A5 and added the PCSP should be involved in the continued lobbying in relation to the upgrade which is very badly needed".

He asked the police to provide accident statistics in support of his case, maintaining that overtaking was unsafe.

Mr McClean, also a member of the PCSP, is annoyed the decision was taken in his absence and believes it is outside the body's terms of reference in any case.

"The PCSP is about holding the police to account," he said.

"It is not in their terms of reference to lobby a foreign Government or even our own Government for an illegal project. At the last meeting I informed them that I had taken legal advice on the matter and I was writing to the Department of Justice and the Policing Board about their actions. I was told I could write to whoever I liked."

He is standing as a Green Party candidate for the new Omagh and Fermanagh super council in May. He was vice chair of the Alternative A5 Alliance, the body that brought the case which halted the A5 plan and was awarded £20,000 in costs.

Identical letters, signed by councillor Errol Thompson, the chair of the PCSP, were sent to both governments. They express "concern at the high level of road traffic collisions within our local policing district, with particular relevance to the A5 road project".

A Department of Justice spokesman said it was aware of the PCSP's letters.

BACKGROUND

A year ago a judge quashed plans to build a dual carriageway on the route of the A5 from Derry to Aughnacloy. The judge ruled developers had failed to properly assess the impact on wildlife habitats in the Rivers Foyle and Finn. The £330m development, jointly funded by Stormont and the Republic's Government, was intended to link Donegal to Monaghan via Northern Ireland.

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