The strategically important A6 or the immortalised landscape of south Co Derry?

Now, I don’t have a strong view on this issue. But the latest proposal for to build a four-lane dual carriageway, linking the main Derry to Belfast road at Toome with the M2, will cut close to Lough Beg and Mossbawn near the late poet’s former home.

Arguably the link between Derry and Belfast, left hanging in the area for nearly 40 years, is one of Northern Ireland’s most strategically important roads in terms of linking Northern Ireland’s two largest centres of population…

Derry City’s poor land links with the outside world are one of the big legacies of a Troubles era in which mend and make do became a greater imperative than planning for the future. An upgrade is long overdue.

Weighed against that is the environmental impacts in a rare wetland environment, and that the fact that the current route goes just 50m past Heaney’s birthplace. We know Irish voters rarely put much weight on the environment, but what about culture?

As Stephen Connolly wrote in the New Statesman, the effect of the poets early writing raise the above quiet annonymous Mid ULster:

For Heaney, the centre of his world was Mossbawn and his imaginative life widened from there to Anahorish, the south Derry townland to the west of Lough Neagh which features in some of the poet’s most famous works: “Blackberry-Picking,” “Death of a Naturalist” and “Mid-term Break,” to name a few.

The poem “Anahorish” begins with a translation of Anach fhíor uisce, the Irish root of the townland’s name. It was, for Heaney, his “place of clear water,” which he called “the first hill in the world”.

There’s a campaign to raise funds to mount a legal challenge, which reached the High Court yesterday.

The minister (a young man in a hurry to make up for the slack from his predecessors) says he’s mindful of these issues, but he argues that the alternatives the department has looked at do not entirely avoid the same dangers.


  • Ian James Parsley

    There is a separate issue here too.

    Should it really be possible, after inquiries in 2007 and 2012, to lodge a legal appeal in 2016 just as the vesting order was put in place to build the road?

    If there were a serious legal issue, why was it not raised years ago?

    There remains something wrong with the fundamental culture in NI that we all want change except if it affects is directly.

  • Declan Doyle

    It is the same in the rest of the country. Over the last twenty years thousands of miles of motorway have been constructed linking Dublin with the smaller cities, the biggest projects being those connecting Belfast and Cork to tge capital. Almost all of them have had to overcome objections of one sort or another. The Derry road is long overdue and crucial to completing national network.

  • Much needed to cater for the thousands of visitors expected to the new Heaney Centre.

  • mickfealty

    Well, apparently the access road will skim the edge of the Heaney homestead…

  • Katyusha

    This seems relevent given we’re talking about Heaney.

    There are strong echos of the argument to reroute the M3 away from Tara to avert the impact of road construction on a much more ancient, important and unique part of the Irish landscape. However, while Tara was literally the centre of ancient Ireland and is impossibly valuable and unique in that respect, the important thing about Heaney’s poetry to me was that the landscape he describes is so typical of Ireland, or at least what we now call mid-Ulster, that it could be found anywhere. I don’t think he would have viewed it as sacred, although he may well have objected to driving a dual-carriageway through the landscape. If we were to block construction in every area that had relevance to one of this country’s famous sons or daughters, we’d never build anything.

    The linking-up of Derry with both Belfast and Dublin is long, long overdue. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to preserve the city and the surrounding region in a time capsule.

  • mickfealty

    Yes, but we are also (really) crap at handling trade offs. Some environmentalists say that one of the other seriously considered routes involves the use of a brown-field site which cuts through near the Elk Inn.

    Contrary to the Minister’s statement, they also say it would have minimal environmental impacts. Although, interestingly, there’s virtually no political opposition to this at all.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well in Clare they once diverted a motorway by- pass near Ennis to avoid a ‘Fairy Tree’ I kid you not!

    Meanwhile, over in Yorkshire we have the solution. The roads between Sheffield and Manchester are picturesque but not particularly efficient.

    It is only 38 miles between the two cities and yet takes about 1.5 hours on a good day, and snow can close the Snake and Woodhead passes on a regular basis in winter, meaning you have to travel up the M1 and nearly into Leeds before getting on the M62.

    Apparently, we intend to build a twenty mile road tunnel – making it one of the longest in the world – beneath the Pennines.

    So, there you have it lads and lasses, get your shovel, famous Seamus would no doubt be in full agreement. : )

  • chrisjones2

    Perhaps because its one of the most obvious examples of a road that is really needed and cost justified?

    As for the Heaney Homestead ….the link to Heaney’s work is really tenuous and the loss of the corner of a field is minimal

  • chrisjones2

    …or we stand to gain directly from a change

  • chrisjones2

    “Thousands of visitors”?

    Hmmmm …..lets wait and see shall we

  • Oggins

    Get the road built, simples.

  • Katyusha

    1. Process
    As the bull-dozer bites into the tree-ringed hill fort
    Its grapnel jaws lift the mouse, the flower,
    With equal attention, and the plaited twigs
    And clay of the bird’s nest, shaken by the traffic.
    Fall from a crevice under the bridge
    Into the slow-flowing mud-choked stream
    Below the quarry, where the mountain trout
    Turns up its pale belly to die.

    From Hymn to the New Omagh Road, by John Montague ,1968.

    Major road projects are always associated with despoiling the landscape, but imagine how difficult life would be had we never built it.
    As someone from Montague’s ancestral homeland, I’m only too keen for them to drive another road through the place. It’s sorely needed.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I imagine I’m in the minority but I’m from thon neck of the woods, I personally wish they never built the A6 in the first place.

    I think they should have concentrated linking up Derry to Belfast via Ballymena, Ballymoney etc.

    The villages now feel like dormitory towns for Belfast (imho).

    Sometimes I think about moving to Fermanagh precisely to escape main roads and ‘progress’ (I put a bid on a house there once, beautiful, I was outbid though. Ho hum)

  • ted hagan

    The people of south Derry could probably have both, with a little imagination by the authorities. And why sneer at those who care about such things?

  • ted hagan

    You obviously know damn all about Heaney.

  • Declan Doyle

    Derry has long been neglected by the once unionist hegemon (remember the university). So it would be great to see the road completed. Maybe a tunnel then to Donegal ? 😉
    I’ll get me coat !

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They spent a fortune on that place an in the meantime give planning permission for Bellaghy to be kowped and have new crappy looking houses built on the graves of fine old rural houses.
    People will come for the centre and the Bawn and then hightail it out of there as Bellaghy has been pretty much destroyed by a lack of sensible planning and conservation.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    “a dead poet and a couple of arty people”. Ouch! I take it you didn’t read the Humanities at uni?

    Although I’m more of a Longley chap myself, is it not a tad unkind to dismiss the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney as no more than a “dead poet”?

    Although I broadly agree that for however long the ‘Car is King’ road upgrades will be required. I content myself in the knowledge that come the time that the internal combustion engine and electric motor, as used in personal transport, are museum pieces nature (or what’s left of it) will quickly mend the asphalt scars that crisscross the countryside.

  • Declan Doyle

    Contact the Orange Order, apparently they have stacjs of property in that area bought to ward off the taiggs. Maybe they will do u a good deal 😉

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Thanks for the update from our Dreary Steeples correspondent, and now back to the studio……..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Ernie, I suppose this is another topic for another rant but I think we’re too car dependent in NI.
    I think it’s time to re-open some of the old railway lines either as train lines, trolly buses, trams or even cycle paths.
    They’ve just blown millions on the Magherafelt by pass, it could have been rendered unnecessary by sensible schooling policy and the opening of some of the old railway lines e.g. making use of the old Castledawson-Magherafelt railway line. A trolly bus system could easily run along it and save hundreds of vehicles a day.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    A special Lundy price for Yours Truly? I’d rather take my chances at being gazumped…

  • chrisjones2

    I know he grew up in Bellaghy, moved to Belfast to University then to Dublin and stayed there the rest of his life.

    Lots of his work references South Derry but he lived there for quite a short time and never really went back.

    I think his house near Queens was pulled down some years ago in a dawn raid by a developer who just ignored its listing. Arguably it had more connection with Heaney than perhaps his ‘homestead’ did

    400 metres here or there on a road’s position is neither here nor there.

  • chrisjones2

    I agree. The tunnel would be a great idea to let Donegal People have access to civilisation (well to Derry anyway which is the nearest available approximation)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    The greenways site is great!
    Can you imagine if they did reopen the old Glens railway line as a cycle path?!
    As for Translink, please, don’t upset me…

  • Katyusha

    What does it matter? Stating the link between Heaney’s work and Bellaghy is tenuous just because Heaney lived in Dublin is like saying the link between Joyce’s work and Dublin is tenuous just because Joyce lived in Zurich. It’s nonsense

  • hgreen

    Driverless electric vehicles are less than 10 years away. They’ll transform our cities. They will however still need roads.

  • Brian Walker

    Is it all too late?. Or might a judge reopen it as the last public inquiry was I think in 2007?

    What I haven’t seen discussed is the cost of a newly diverted route.

    Why can’t they dual the existing road like they dualled the A2 Derry-Limavady road or dip the new A6 down southwards a few miles along a line that was previously rejected? The whole area is wetland – as in “Digging” and so much of his early work. But until you get down closer to Lough Neagh itself it is fairly “ordinary” as Heaney himself described it. I don’t know it exactly but from Conor Macauley’s BBC report the Mossbawn homestead, – a very ordinary bungalow these days and surely not the original – ,looks very close to the new road system and cuts along near Anahorish and Lough Beg. Seamus himself suggested a route over an old airstrip and industrial estate which I think I recognise as a big lorry park today. .

    The new Heaney centre and the grave are well out of the way in Bellaghy. The old pre- 1980s A6 route via Hillhead out of Castledawson was in its way more evocative than the present route. The present A6 stretch from the Castledawson roundabout is only about 25 years old.and on a good day is fairly fast because straight. The proposed new dualled route runs close to it .. So why not just dual the existing one?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That’s enough of the common sense chat Thank you very much!

  • the moviegoer

    Joyce left Dublin at 22 and apart from one 7-month long visit never went back. But Dublin, not Paris, Zurich or Trieste, shaped him, as is the case with Heaney and Bellaghy I’m sure. The link to one’s formative years is hardly tenuous regardless of what your opinion on this road development is.

  • Barneys mum

    Well said. These challengers, and I dare say the vast majority live nowhere near the area, have had years to take this legal challenge. Peoples homes and land have become vested since YESTERDAY and are now once again being left in limbo whilst a bunch of wannabe poets and so- called environmentalists start playing at lawyers and delaying progress. Do these people go out to work every day and sit on that congested and dangerous road twice a day, 5 days a week? Probably not.

  • hgreen

    Not at all. They’ll have to work on all road types to get a safety certificate.

  • Anglo-Irish

    A local folklore expert was predicting all kinds of mayhem destruction and pileups if the tree was disturbed.

    Given the standard of driving out the mid west back then I don’t think he’d have been far out on that one!

    The driving is way better these days, which is probably a combination of better roads, better cars and more Garda attention.

    Once had a battered old Datsun with smoke blowing out of its arse overtake me on a blind bend on the Ennis road doing about 70 when 40 would have been pushing it.
    When I glanced at the driver it was an old woman of about 75 with gray hair and a determined expression on her face.

    In fairness she had rosary beads hanging from the rear view mirror, and as we all know that’s a guaranteed defence against a HGV coming around the corner head on!

  • mickfealty

    I’m still getting over his famous status. It may take decades to figure his real, ie lasting value. But it’s a fantastically profligate way to treat an area that’s not just associated with one Ireland’s leading poets, but the subject of a lot of his best loved work.

    Lisadell, being aristocratic, has had no such problems. Feels uncomfortable treating our peasant heritage with such casual distain.

  • Katyusha

    As someone who works in the field of predicting automotive technology on a ten-year horizon, there is simply no way that driverless electric vehicles are going to make a meaningful impact within the next ten years. We’d be lucky to have a 15% electric or hybrid-electric split in the market by then, never mind the driver aids, which all OEMs are cautious about rolling out; with the exception of Tesla, which treats automotive technology like it’s software and releases beta versions of technology that isn’t fully validated.

    As regards driverless vehicles working on the roads of Ireland, it took long enough for Sat Nav (an ridiculously simple technology in comparison) to work properly with Ireland’s road network. OEM’s simply aren’t thinking if some back lane connecting a few houses in the middle of nowhere when they think of “all road types”. Heck, such a landscape is almost unknown in Germany, where a lot of the more advanced OEMs are based. You’ll get a test case for “urban” and “extra urban”, and that’s it.

  • Katyusha

    I content myself in the knowledge that come the time that the internal combustion engine and electric motor, as used in personal transport, are museum pieces nature (or what’s left of it) will quickly mend the asphalt scars that crisscross the countryside.

    I’ve always been a fan of such a “twilight apocalypse” scenario, myself. It would be a peaceful and dignified way for ourselves and the earth to move on from the age of humanity.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick.. No harm done but you’ve shifted ground from agnosticism in the post to a position of romantic censure. I think they could shift the line of the road and keep the essential vista. The homestead nearest the road is workaday. Lissadell is a beautiful house which stayed in the Gore Booth family to the end of 20th century.Call it aristocratic if you like. But Lissadell is more beautIful than the Heaney’s ordinary modern bungalow which for me anyway doesn’t evoke the Mossbawn of the poems. It isn’t a heritage thatched cottage with the farm implements in the yard he recalls his father handling so precisely. The Yeats poem commemorated but did not create the actual Lissadell. In a way complete restoration by a Dublin entrepreneur has robbed it of its rackety Anglo-Irish mystique. Life moves on…

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Just so. Unfortunately I fear that “ourselves” will not be part of the “move on”.

    But what will come first I wonder: human apocalypse or Irish unity? 😉

  • mickfealty

    You got me!! I was interested in the trade off between one set of values and another. Seems to me we should try to honour the tension.

  • Old Mortality

    It would be even better if they could flatten the bungalow as well! I think most Heaney devotees beyond these parts would be very unimpressed by it.

  • chrisjones2

    But the loss of a corner of one particular field has no impact on that. And from what iI remember – admittedly from readings long ago – his work referenced the Sperrins as much / more than Bellaghy. Do we block all development in the region?

  • chrisjones2

    …as is suggesting that we protect a street in Zurich for ever and a day because he once lived there?

    Is the actual work not the relevant thing? Without a specific link to a field or hedgerow is it not just all just mawkish sentimentality or some other self interest?

  • chrisjones2

    Hang on though …the plot in this thickens. Silly me not to read the subtext.

    The Heaney Centre is in the old Bellaghy Cop Shop in the Village and nowhere near his home ….so the issue is the general one of the road itself which some locals dont want .

    And there is competition between the Heaney Centre in Bellaghy (quoted at £4m) and the other Heaney Centre at Queens which has been going for years

    Then you see that Marty and wee Carol bunged the new Bellaghy Version over £1m in 2015 (wonder why) to get it off the ground with more from the SF controlled local council in Magherafelt. Still we are told that that will support 15 part time jobs (at a mere £250k / job)

    Now you might have thought that commemorating his memory might have been better served by expanding the Queens Centre where he did a large part of his work and that £4m there could have done a hell of a lot in terms of education etc but apparently not.

    So in the end have we finished up with (in effect) a Prod Heaney Centre in South Belfast and a Catholic one in Bellaghy? And who thought it sensible that we ever had the two?

    It also appears that most pilgrims to Bellaghy wish to visit his grave in the local church (not the homestead) so one supposes the new road will get them there and away a lot faster.

    But thats not the point – on the sidelines of this saga is exposed what is wrong with our fractured sectarian pork barrel politics. If he was still here he might have written a poem about it

    How long before the money runs out? My bet is less than 5 years. If Exploris cannot hack it what hope has this?

  • mickfealty

    He was being sarcastic Chris…

  • Christine Casey

    He spent his teens at St Columbs in Derry as a boarder and spent most of his life everywhere BUT his hometown.

    Anyway this is about access to area hospitals. People DIE because they are stuck in s*** roads. There is a golden hour for treating a lot of conditions.

    If it was your loved one – would you want some nice scenery to die in whilst stuck in traffic or actually get to the flimmin hospital and have half a chance.

  • chrisjones2

    Apologies. So was I.

    Excess of phlegm this week.

  • hgreen

    You obviously need to work harder. Autonomous vehicles use real time mapping. The road and location itself will be irrelevant. Not sure what you mean by test cases since Google autonomous vehicles have already done millions of miles. Tesla have stated the hardware is pretty much in place with the software close behind.

  • Brian Walker

    There is a tension, sure, but in this case, the pastoral setting has already been fairly adulterated. The memorialising of Heaney in Bellaghy itself has also transformed the environment into something else, more than say Yeats’ grave at Drumcliff which is now almost in the sprawl of Sligo or Wordsworth’s house run by the National Trust. It’s in an environment which is spacious enough to be reconciled to tourism. “Heaney country” as they’;re bound to call it if they haven’t already, is much more fragile. Have the brown tourist signs gone up yet?

  • babyface finlayson

    I think I agree with you. I don’y need to visit Stratford to appreciate Shakespeare’s words (especially so as he never wrote them! I say Oxford) and I have a feeling Heaney might be more concerned about the environmental impact than his birthplace.
    Having said that if the alternative route through the brownfield site is viable then would that not keep everybody happy?

  • Dan

    A cycle network……sure they couldn’t even get the cycle path right on the multi-million pound A2 road scheme at Jordanstown.

  • Katyusha

    By a test case I simply mean the test used for certification. You can – and need to – do millions of miles of validation testing for any new technology, but when it comes to signing off the technology for release, at a legislative level, it’s irrelevent. For example, when testing for emissions, the EU / EPA do not look at internal testing the OEM has done, even road testing. They do one test on a defined cycle – for Europe, until now on the NEDC, soon to move to the WLTP, with the EU also introducing it’s own randomised on-road test for emissions. Same with crash testing. It doesn’t matter what internal validation you do, if you fail the global NCAP. At the end of the day, the most important thing for the engineers is to pass the certification test (see VW for reference). Internal validation – the millions of miles of road testing – is there to stop the warranty claims rolling in, more to do with reliability than certification.

    I’m well aware of autonomous vehicle technology and I highly doubt any sensory system is going to be free from malfunction on twisty Irish roads. Certainly, when driving at home I wouldn’t rely on it, given the roads around my homestead are dangerous enough even with a human behind the wheel. It works fine on the Autobahn or in urban traffic. I can well believe that the technology is there, (well, for certain, the hardware is there, it’s not revolutionary, and software is normally application specific and is a more routine part of the development process), but usually, technology doesn’t drive the automotive industry, it’s driven by legislation and the consumer market: every automotive company has innovative technology gathering dust on their engineers’ desks. When the market shifts, you blow the dust off, and roll it out.

    These things take time. When it’s taken almost ten years just to introduce a new emissions test cycle, forgive me if I don’t see the industry changing very quickly. Autonomous (not driverless) electric vehicles are a niche, and in ten years time they’ll be a very slightly bigger niche. We’ll probably have a small (I’d guess 5% or less) market share for BEV’s, with some limited driver aids ( separate from the EV introduction, because they’ll pop up in high-end IC vehicles, too), still requiring driver control. There’ll probably be a much larger level of mild-hybrid technology, especially with the move to a 48V boardnet across all vehicles (12V lead acid batteries are a silly and completely outdated standard that should have died out long ago) and a gradual electrification of components that, until now, have been mechanically driven. Electrical supercharging and electrical catalyst heating are already gaining some applications, but whether they are here to stay depends very much on how the economics work out on the mild-hybrid front. The future is modest. That’s my 2c, at least.

  • chrisjones2

    “I highly doubt any sensory system is going to be free from malfunction on twisty Irish roads”

    …but still more reliable than an 18 year old Irish male with 6 pints on board?

  • chrisjones2

    They are already here on top end saloons from Mercedes for example with the driver just ‘monitoring’ them

  • chrisjones2

    …and he wrote / disnt write most of them in London just keeping the wife at a safe arms length in Stratford in the 2nd best bed

  • John Collins

    If Donald Trump gets into the White House my money is on the old HA option. Come to think of it the odds might not be greatly decreased if ‘the alternative’ gets elected either.

  • hgreen

    Dealing with twisty roads isn’t the issue so sorry if I doubt your knowledge in this area. I think the Google car managed to negotiate Lombard Street in SF ok. Dealing with the completely random events that can occur when driving is the biggest problem to overcome e.g. roadworks, sunlight, kids and pedestrians.

    As regards legislation. In Europe this will be fast tracked as the European car industry has a lot to lose from Tesla, Google and Apple if they don’t move quickly. There are also huge safety and environmental benefits of this technology which will also ease its progress.

  • John Collins

    Would it be fairer to say he was being ironic. One way or the other, Dissenter does irony very well.

  • Brian O’Neill

    This ugly bungalow? Even if Seamus Heaney did not live there I would be happy to knock it down for ascetic reasons.

    The area is nice but so is a lot of NI. It is not exactly the hill of Tara.

    Derry needs a new road urgently. It will be a massive boost to that area.

  • Katyusha

    Dealing with random events is the focus of development because it’s the biggest problem facing such systems. You say “the issue” like it’s the only one; I’ve worked on projects for very simple components that have had literally hundreds of issues to overcome. I’m talking of the specific case of narrow country roads where I know people semi-regularly fail to judge where the edge of the road is. I would not trust a sensory system to be able to pick it up. But I work in powertrain, not autonomous vehicles, so you’re right that it’s not my field of expertise 😉

    The recent Tesla crash where the vehicle failed to sense a white lorry turning against a bright sky is a similar case. It’s not that the system couldn’t react fast enough to unexpected random hazards, but that the sensors weren’t sophisticated enough to perceive the hazard in the first place. I’ll say that, as a camera-based system without LIDAR, it’s not exactly representative of autonomous driving technology – to my mind, autonomous vehicle technology is intrinsically linked with LIDAR; I don’t understand why you would rely on cameras.

    As regards legislation, if they were afraid of Tesla gaining market share, surely the best thing the EU could do would be to delay legislation, not fast track it? Why would you allow Tesla to enter the European market with a head start on Mercedes and BMW? (not that I believe they have such a head start, nor do I believe Google or Apple pose a serious threat) The European auto manufacturers are capable of delaying legislation if they wish (like the did with Real Driving Emissions testing), but I think they’ll want to see this introduced – not so much from a fear of Tesla but from a belief it will give them an edge in their own market, especially in an area where the Japanese OEMs do not seem to be strong.

  • hgreen

    Not talking specifically about the European market. I’m talking about Tesla, Google and Apple having first mover advantage and patented technologies that other manufacturers may be forced to adopt.

    I’m surprised you don’t see two of the largest companies in the world, in an industry becoming increasingly software dependent, not posing a serious threat.

  • chrisjones2
  • billypilgrim1

    I think you mean aesthetic.

    Unless you actually do mean ascetic, and favour in principle the destruction of places of artistic and cultural significance, à la the Taliban?

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    For 4.2million quid they could have used the money to do up the old buildings in Bellaghy (and stop the place from being the ugliest village in South Derry, it’s heading that way), helped the bawn, the Blacksmiths, Castledawson’s main st (Castledawson was commissioned by Joshua Dawson, he of Dawson St Dublin fame and who commissioned the mayor’s building), Moyola house, the Knockloughrim windmill (a popular tea room until disrepair set in) and the old shop in Curran.

    This could provide a veritable tourist trail of sorts and allow all manner of businesses with a slice of the tourist pie instead very of the local businesses will see any benefit to the ‘influx’ of buses.

    Instead we’ve yet another example of ‘handbrake turn’ tourism which as you rightly point out will provide part time jobs at a dizzying cost for what is in effect ‘duplication of services’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Would Derry not benefit from being connected to Belfast via all the big towns with a decent road?
    A motorway (of sorts) via Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballymena seems only logical to me.

  • Declan Doyle

    For sure, and through mid ulster to Dublin. Practically every city in Ireland now has a motorway of sorts to the largest city.

  • John Collins

    Churchills ‘dreary steeples’ comment was interesting, coming as it did from, well, Churchill. In 1921/22 when it was mooted that Fermanagh and Tyrone, by virtue of a local poll, might decide to join the Free State, this was the man who said Enniskillen could not be allowed to leave the UK, for some reasons of Unionist emotional attachment to that town. So like Dev and Bonar Law, Churchill was all for democratic outcomes as long as they coincided with his preferences. So of all people he was ill positioned to make his ‘dreary steeples’ comment.
    BTW Declan is probably quite right. Remember when Tom King was elected the MP for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone all the baalyhoo there was about the Unionist Party gaining the most Westerly Constituency in the UK. When the Unionist Party had the chance to build a proper airport serving Transatlantic Flights from North America, which they could have built with UK support in the 1930s, they blew the chance. It was left to the impoverished Southern State to build Shannon Airport, which did a huge amount for future prosperity in the Mid West region.
    When they had the chance to build a university in the .most westerly’ city in the uk, a city with 60,000 people and the second city in NI, they choose to build it in a town, yes a town, Colerain which then had a population of about 12,000 people.
    I will not even go into the motorway debate.
    Make no mistake about it Jarl, the Unionist Party, if they had exhibited a bit of fair play towards their second city, could have cut the ground from under the emerging Civil Rights Movement, long before they got off the ground.

  • Hugh Davison

    Not sure what you mean by ‘the age of humanity’ but I don’t see the human race moving anywhere forward in this century. Expect a world war soon.

  • Hugh Davison

    You sound like a politician from the sixties. Why we stopped riding bicycles? the car was the future.
    Don’t mention global warming.

  • billypilgrim1

    Via Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballymena? That seems a bit circuitous, surely? The existing A6 seems like the natural line.

    Though I agree with Declan Doyle that a motorway through mid ulster linking up with Dublin is even more important. Dublin is a major European powerhouse. Belfast ain’t.

  • Hugh Davison

    Most of them do (go out to work every day) and some sit on that (congested and dangerous road).
    Pass on my regards to Barney, won’t you?

  • billypilgrim1

    God, I hate it when people talk about “being forced” to read or study things at school.

    There’s a good reason why older, wiser people, “force” young people to read and study things, even if in some cases these seeds of wisdom fall on stony ground.

    The fault is yours, not your teacher’s, and not Heaney’s.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Actually, this circuit is more of the natural line, hence why the railway runs it (mostly).
    The A6 rinds to a halt in Dungiven and (at present) at the motorway exit at Randalstown.
    The way things are going we’ll have Frosses road (the Ballymena – Coleraine road) widened, the A6 motorwayed and THEN a motorway from Derry Dublin.
    My point is IF we’re going to have Derry Dublin road (A5-gate does spring to mind though) AND they’re already doing up the Frosses road then what’s the point in blowing yet more money on the A6?
    And ultimately the A6 will be limited by Dungiven and building a by-pass there would be tricky and a massive scar on its landscape (why the people of Dungiven don’t push out the tourism boat I don’t know, it COULD be lovely with a bit of TLC and is in a nice area).

  • Simian Droog

    Wow Mick. Tough one, save the bogs or let the bogside into belfast. You’ve excelled yourself here.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I honestly think they care more about such things across the water than here, this was on the telly the night on the Later With… (different video though, natch):

  • babyface finlayson

    Dammit! I just changed the tip on my snooker cue.
    Wish I hadn’t bothered now.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m delighted to confirm the utter uselessness of Sat Nav in the NI countryside. When the Secret Police finally carry out their dawn raid to lift me, they will probably lift my neighbour half a mile away. He’s the one Hermes and TNT leave the book parcels with, insisting that he is “Mr UiNeill” according to their Sat Nav…………

  • Skibo

    Imagine if the road had been built when it should have, Seamus Heaney could have written a poem about it himself.

  • Hugh Davison

    Of course they do. You can’t keep a good idea down.
    But on the proposed road, I can’t understand why they can’t run it across the old US aerodrome to the south-west of the existing road.