Infrastructure choices

Sinn Fein will be in Brussels today to lobby for a massive investment in road and rail links from Dublin to the North-West. Infrastructure is a key economic driver but will a north-south skew to the investment provide the best returns? Would similar EU investment in the west of Northern Ireland and the border counties not produce similar or better results? Is an extension of the rail network from Londonderry a more viable option than from Sligo?

  • The economic power house of this Island is Dublin. Thus to increase the economic outlook for an area it needs a good connection to Dublin. Derry or even Belfast is simply not big enough and not rich enough to compete. So to answer your question
    Would similar EU investment in the west of Northern Ireland and the border counties not produce similar or better results?
    No worse results. Connecting poor areas to poor areas is useless.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    That’s not to say that building infrastructure in the west is not important. One of the problems the Republic now has is that it is still not easy to travel east west. But in terms of utility, the north south corridor is important in terms of connecting to new markets.

    People sometimes forget that Dublin is not simply a destination in itself. In some cases it may be the best route to GB, US and European markets.

  • IJP

    There’s another aspect to this, and that is SF’s usual “cap-in-hand” approach.

    The obvious thing to do, if this is deemed desirable, is build a motorway from Dublin to Letterkenny with one tolling point in the Republic and one tolling point in the North. That way, user pays, no difficulty with cross-border payment, and no Brussels begging bowls.

    But I fear taking responsibility for our own future is never high up the agenda of parties wracked by populism, be it green or orange…

  • jfd

    regardless of the ‘hub’ be it Derry/Belfast or Dublin, such a move is a dire nessecity for the NW – both sides of the border stand to gain.

    having spent last week in Sligo, the potential of the NW region both for savvy entrepenuers and for the Island wide tourist sector is so patently obvious.

    While no fan of SF and laugh when looney lefties attempt to talk economics the issue is central to the economic development of not only the Republic but the NW borders counties of NI.

    I hope they make headway

  • Jeremy

    If SF can gain Euro millions from Europe then why the hell not.If the raillink is ever built I suggest you travel by car to continue making such a well thought out,principled out.
    If Europe dooes not want to give the money they wont. If a reasonable case is made for getting it then they may. Thats hardly begging is it?

  • heres hoping

    IJP going and making demands of those in power and with responsibility for spending our money is politics, not begging. Sinn Fein are showing initiative and attempting to ensure that the NW gets its fair share.

  • The Dog

    At least this is an initiative that recognises the serious infrastructure deficit in the NW and looks to address it in a pretty straightforward way. Sort of want I want my politicians today.

    A great initiative following the decsion of Adams to go to Israel – Palestine

  • The Dog

    should read what i want my politicians to do

  • IJP

    Jeremy and heres hoping

    I’d rather have the things built now than wait for other people to give us the money, that’s why.

    In politics you’re supposed to keep power, not give it away to others.

    I note with interest SF’s about-turn on Europe. Will it now admit it was wrong to be anti-EU? What does that tell us about the political judgement of its leadership in the real world? When did Gerry and Martin switch from “Brussels=bad” to “Brussels=good”?

  • Dec

    In politics you’re supposed to keep power, not give it away to others.

    That being the case, why did you join the Alliance party?

  • bootman

    “Sinn Fein will be in Brussels today to lobby for a massive investment in road and rail links from Dublin to the North-West. ”

    Strasbourg, surely?

  • heres hoping

    IJP looks like just because its sinn fein you have to be critical, sinn fein are making politics and attempting to make change for all the people of this island. why do you join in rather than sitting on the sidelines whinging

  • lib2016

    “In politics you’re supposed to keep power, not give it away to other”

    Margaret Thatcher refused to accept Brussels aid to improve Britain’s infrastructure during the 80’s when Germany, Holland, France, Italy and the rest saw no problem in doing so. Her justification for behaving so oddly was the need to avoid the delays caused by the EU’s requirement for enviromental impact studies if Britain was to overtake the standards reached on the European mainland.

    It seems strange to see someone still supporting that policy.

  • jerryp

    SF going from Brussells = bad to Brussells = good is consistent with going from blowing up the railways to looking for investment in them.

  • Mick Fealty


    “It looks like…”

    It looks like nothing of the sort. Policy was at the centre of IJP’s remarks, albeit critical of a Sinn Fein approach. But it won’t remain so for very long if people continue to take the eye off the ball and sink the boot into the man.

    Now please, if you want to discuss policy play on. If you prefer to try and take out the opposition, take it somewhere else!!

  • Occasional Commentator

    Calling for EU money doesn’t mean SF now think the EU is good. If the governments are going to insist on siphoning off some of our tax money to send to Brussels, it makes sense to look for some of it back. The best approach might be for the EU to take less money in the first place.

    Anyway, surely it’s the organisations you don’t like that you ask for the most money off 🙂

    The EU shouldn’t be a big messy pot of cash that everybody fights over. The correct approach for the EU when trying to improve cross-border trade is to simply force the relevant pairs of countries to put money into the cross-border projects – the EU shouldn’t be about transferring money about, it should be about increasing cooperation.

  • foreign correspondent

    Talking of infrastructure, was it not total folly and parochialism of the old Unionist governments to build motorways to those worldrenowned metropolises of Randalstown and Dungannon instead of concentrating on linking up with Dublin? It´s still not all dual carriageway from Belfast to the border, as far as I know. Madness…

  • Occasional Commentator

    foreign correspondent,
    The Belfast-Dublin road is being improved. I was on it on Thursday and some of the worst twists and turns on the A1 have been removed. Next time I’m going to pay more attention to what’s being done. But it’s still not near the standard it should be.

    Talking of the Dublin to NW link (i.e. Letterkenny), it’s really only the Letterkenny to Lifford road that’s really bad. If they could sort it out, it might suffice in place of rail links.

  • Jo

    I think the SF policy is now equivalent to the DUP policy, i.e., “Brussels = Real”.

    Actually, I thought the Derry/Dublin road link was getting better, isn’t there work being done in the Monagahan area?

  • dantheman

    Between Ardee and Emyvale the republic have and will continue to improve the N2 dramatically compared to previously. The Castleblaney-Clontibret bypass will finish next year and the Monaghan bypass should complete sometime in the next month i think. That leaves the only slow part of the road between monaghan and ballygawley. The omagh throughpass is clearly a stop gap measure.

    However as the majority of these improvements are offline, the problems remains that they should have built these road to HQDC spec like they did on the other main interurbans down south. Both N and S have ignored Donegal and the NW yet again. Ideally the N33 from the M1 to ardee could easily be upgraded, whilst the Carrickmacross and Clontibret bypasses could be similarly upgraded.

    The projected road from Strabane to Manorcunningham (starts 2009) could become HQDC/motorway and tie in with the DC there outside Letterkenny. The big lack of schemes in the north though has probably put the ROI off thinking bigger in this aspect.

    Maybe under the new RPA if local councils get control over these schemes and take some power away from the bowler hat brigade then the people of the NW and WOTB in general will finally get the links to the nations capital that they deserve.

  • IJP

    Fair comments, OC, I take your points.

    “Brussels = real” probably sums it up.

    I guess my point is that some of us realized the potential of the EU a long time beforehand, and have been working hard at it ever since. For example, NI’s representative on the CoE Committee of the Regions is Séan Neeson, testament to his and the party’s hard work over decades.

  • IJP


    Yes, that’s another NI syndrome you identify. Person A makes Point A, Person B attacks Point A, Person A accuses him/her of attacking Person A to avoid having to bother with a policy debate…

    Is that not a bit like the one where the first person to mention “Nazi” loses the argument automatically (not a rule I necessarily accept, by the way!)?

  • Jeremy

    ALot of things need to be built now, actually should already be in place, and so lets get help where ever we can.

    Following on from Fair Deals map on railroads and on IJP’s idea of a motorway as the best option the question might be where to run either. According to the spatial strategy for the 26 counties one of the key access routes to the north is through omagh strabane and onto Derry. Thats not exactly moving all the way to the West, but then as someone said above there is no point in linking a poor area to a poor area. Transport will continue to follow a radial pattern until the cities/towns in the west (Limerick to Derry) hit a critical mass. Region.shtml

  • Jo


    A good thought, but “strategic roads” are not envisaged to become the responsibility of the new councils.

  • Lack of adequate transport links from Donegal into the rest of the island remains and issue for anyone living in the county or wishing to locate there.

    Trains would be nice……………