Minister alleviates funding fears over £850m Derry-Dublin road
Transport Minister Danny Kennedy last night gave his backing to the £850m dual carriageway project which will link Londonderry and Dublin.
It has now emerged that the Department for Regional Development has contributed more than half of the £38m spent to date on the A5 Western Corridor project.
The largest roads project on the island of Ireland, the scheme will see Dublin linked with Derry, Strabane, Omagh and Donegal via the border at Aughnacloy.
It emerged yesterday that the Irish government has also stumped up £19m towards both the A5 and the A8 Belfast to Larne projects to date.
Mr Kennedy revealed the spending following concerns raised over a letter he sent to Derry City Council in July in which he said he intended to “consider proposed investments across my department”.
However, the minister revealed last night in a statement to the Telegraph: “I support improvements to the A5, A8 and other arterial routes in Northern Ireland.
“The A5 public inquiry has still to report and I will study the independent inspector’s report and recommendations before concluding my consideration.
“My department has already committed funding to develop the A5 Western Transport Corridor dualling project with £38m being spent between November 2007 and August 2011. This includes £19m from the RoI government which is towards the A5 and A8 projects.”
The minister added: “This funding has paid for professional fees associated with the development of the scheme as well as a number of surveys and indeed input from the joint venture contractors who provided advice during the scheme development and public inquiry.
“It also includes costs associated with the many public consultation events and public inquiry held during May and June 2011.”
The minister had faced pressure from MLAs in the north west yesterday to commit to the project after the Irish government reiterated that it is intent on meeting its total funding commitment of €400m.
Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood emphasised the positive ramifications that the road project will have for the city of Derry.
He said: “The A5 will significantly cut motorists’ travelling time to the capital in Dublin, it will massively improve road safety and its construction will create jobs. This significant infrastructure project will also hopefully mark a small beginning in rebalancing the historical under investment in the west.”