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Stormont will deliver on York Street Interchange, minister vows

Published 22/11/2016

An artist’s impression of the proposed York Street Interchange
An artist’s impression of the proposed York Street Interchange
Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir pledged support for the York Street Interchange project

Stormont will deliver a multimillion-pound motorway project to reduce congestion at a Belfast bottleneck, the Finance Minister has vowed.

Mairtin O Muilleoir claimed the York Street Interchange was a priority and said all funding avenues should be explored.

He said: "I am not the infrastructure minister, but we find common ground.

"We both believe this is a priority project and will transform the road infrastructure of Belfast.

"It is my view that we should be speaking to everyone who has influence over these matters, including the European Infrastructure Funds which won't come on stream until 2018 - but to the British government as well.

"It remains a priority. We need to, and will, deliver the York Street interchange."

The remarks were made during Question Time at the Assembly.

Last week, Sinn Fein Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard accepted a recommendation from a public inquiry that the York Street Interchange scheme should progress in principle but reiterated warnings that Brexit had placed a question mark over funding.

The inquiry into the proposal to link the Westlink, M2 and M3 with construction of a new bridge and associated underpasses was held last November - and a recommendation to proceed was handed to Stormont in January.

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey said the development was "crucial".

Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir pledged support for the York Street Interchange project
Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir pledged support for the York Street Interchange project

"Given that the public inquiry is progressed, the preparatory work has started and the procurement is well advanced, will the minister agree that this work essentially has begun on what is a crucial infrastructure project for this city and this region connecting airports, ports and two motorways in Belfast with the west of Northern Ireland," he said.

Meanwhile Mr O Muilleoir also revealed that he had received a sympathetic ear when highlighting the need for peace funds during an address in Brussels last week.

"I thought we had a sympathetic listen - sympathy isn't really what we want, but I do think actions will follow and that there is an awareness within the European Union that the peace process is the crowning achievement of the European Union and they will take additional steps to make sure the peace process is protected in the time ahead and we do get a special deal, or special case or special recognition for the time ahead," the Minister said.

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