Rocky (A5) road to Dublin?

As the Irish government clings desperately on to both the country’s economic independence and to its tiny Dáil majority whilst simultaneously promising the Plain People in the South more pain in the shape of less pay, fewer jobs and disappearing public services it may seem surprising that they are still funding that road which winds its way through the middle of the Ulster countryside and for no obvious electoral advantage.

Of course, all political parties in the South insist that they are on the one road when its comes to their core principle of unification of the National territory and it is perhaps for that reason the Warriors of Destiny/Fianna Fail (plus their diminishing motley parliamentary coalition) seem prepared to close hospitals and schools but keep funding the under-construction National route from Derry to Dublin.

The road just seems to encapsulate the constitutional confusion ushered in by the GFA legislation in both supposedly copper fastening partition and yet copper fastening the Irish government’s say in Ulster’s affairs and this project appears to have been eagerly seized on by Dublin to both symbolically and literally cement the extension of Southern influence into the North.

Meanwhile up North, Unionist blogger Drumlin’s Rock doesn’t like it and just as per many/most issues in Ulster many/most of the Plain People make their minds up on the basis of ideology first, and then only if absolutely necessary, on the basis of practicalities and merit.

So we can expect SF to organise a motorcade of Black Taxis wielding tricolours to celebrate the opening and expect disgruntled Unionists to organise a boycott urging motorists to take alternative traditional routes. (Perhaps the Irish government could take Unionist sensitivities into account and suggest that the central reservation be made Loyal Orders friendly and suitable for the brethern to march along with President Mc Aleese inviting Mr Saulters, or perhaps Mr Elliott, to jointly open a red, white and blue Garvaghey Road section.)

In Stormont, the recent dust up between team-DUP-SF and the British government regarding the latter breaking its promises was marked by a pragmatic DUP holding up the Irish government as an example that the British government should follow in sticking to its spending committments.

But how long will this cosy, pragmatic, executive consensus hold? Unionist grumblings in the assembly can be expected to increase as the budget cuts take effect given that the project requires hundreds of millions of Stormo money and it may be offering an opening for the newly elected Tom ‘the Orangeman’ Elliott to make some mischief ?

Perhaps Free Statery/self interest will get the better of the Plain People of the South – and given that the vast majority of the Southern money has yet to be spent – this project, which is undoubtedly the biggest and best example of cooperative, non covercive North-Southery, may yet run into the ground?

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  • Mrazik

    “…and for no obvious electoral advantage”.

    You’re joking, right? What about desperate attempts to hold on to Donegal electorally.

    Don’t be surprised if it ends of a toll road paid for up-front by southern taxpayers and then paid back by ‘Nordies’ in tolls.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Sammy, thanks for ressurecting this one for me, and although it may have an old fashioned Nationalist/Unionist element the main issues are the effects it will have on the communities and local environment, and the cost, (of which the Republic is only paying approx a third) the need has to be overwhelming for it in times like this, and with traffic levels as low as the A5 that is certainly not the case.
    Ironic that you mention Garvaghey Road as a large proportion of the road is design to be an Alternative Route to avoid actually driving through Garvaghey! (the ballygawley one that is)

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mrazik,

    RE. “What about desperate attempts to hold on to Donegal electorally”

    I may have underestimated the cunning of the cute-hoors-of-destiny , but the the size of this project suggests a bigger picture. Also I think we can safely assume Conor Murphy will be to the fore in any publicity going arguing it s peace-process-road and SF in Donegal may also beneift at the cute hoors expense?

    .. yes it will be Interesting to see how the tolls work out.

  • There’s huff and there’s puff and there’s this:
    Transport Minister, Conor Murphy, today announced that contractors have been appointed for the A5 Western Transport Corridor (A5WTC) dual carriageway between Derry and Aughnacloy.

    The Minister said I welcome the appointment of three contractors for the A5 Western Transport Corridor project which at 86 kilometres long, is the largest single road scheme ever undertaken in Ireland.

    “…largest single road scheme ever undertaken in Ireland.” Really? Hmmm … So what the Board of Public Works (Ireland) got up to in the Famine years pales into insignificance? What about that Antrim coast road? What, indeed, about the “old” A5?

    However, to pass swiftly on, that quotation above is from a press release dated 7th December last year. It announces that three contracts had already been awarded.

    In other words, nearly a year gone, the deal was signed and sealed. Unravelling the commitments would be an expensive option. Just like those aircraft carriers. So what’s the fuss about now?

  • D

    Oh for gods sake sammy! Couldnt just let this one lie could ya! Traffic from Derry has badly needed both the A5 and A6 for decades. The fact is a road project of this magnitude will take 15 odd years to go from planning to completion (I think its due to be open for 2017). Combining this with the boom and bust nature of western economies, means a development of this type will always be under construction during some sort of recession. Is that a reason to cancel it? It didnt seem to halt other public works that were deemed necessary in NI in times gone by.

    For christs sakes just build the damn thing already! If it isnt constructed now it will never be. But is that not the desired result for many comentators on here?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    DR,

    “it may have an old fashioned Nationalist/Unionist element the main issues are the effects it will have on the communities and local environment”

    I think there may be a cross border protest group comprising objectors on both sides of the border?

    “to avoid actually driving through Garvaghey”
    lol

  • Drumlins Rock

    for an impartial discription of the scheme i would reccomend Wesley Johnstons website. He also covers all major roads schemes in NI so look up your local one, it is an excellent website by a, dare i say?, ” roads Geek “.
    http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/roads/a5omaghstrabane.html

  • Comrade Stalin

    Struggling to understand what the point is in this unreadable, verbose drivel.

  • Seymour Major

    Comrade,

    Maybe I can help you.

    Poor old Tom’s name has been paraded in vain again. Now, we know how Sammy likes to squeeze an orange until the pips squeak.

    Maybe the road wont be completed because of sash and burn politics. Or perhaps the road cuts across too many Drumlins on the way.

    But, he concludes that the Irish Govt might yet renege on their side of the bargain and, instead, since there is no electoral advantage, stick the cash in the Anglo. As the song goes
    “It wasn’t much in vogue on the rocky road to Dublin.”

  • Drumlins Rock

    there is a wee bit of earth moving already happening at Garvaghy,
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/20961594@N04/5088201517/
    Tyrone GAA are doing a wee pitch or two on top of the hill.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm,

    “So what’s the fuss about now?”

    This looks like a stick (as suggested by his offerings in the linked Stormo debate) for the new UUP leader to attack SF-DUP with in these somewhat difficult financial circumstances.

    ..and of course Tommo really does need to raise his profile a bit.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Sammy it is probably more a case of Tommo representing his constituients views, this one long predates any leadership talk.

  • Let’s not forget the Derry-Dublin handout to Aer Arann too.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    DR,

    That is fair point, but he also has to find some sort of traction with the electorate that is not already covered by the DUP.

    As I suggested elsewhere the spat between the DUP and the OO looks like a possibility for some enjoyment for the UUP – have the OO formally replied to Tommo’s request to clarify exactly their input into the parades bill?

    So perhaps expenditure already agreed between the DUP and SF like for example ‘the road to Dublin’ may also tickle his fancy.

    Cant see much else for him to get his teeth into and continuing decline in May’s election (ie losing assembly seats) will presumably mean he will be heading for an early bath with the ‘liberals’ likely to have a go.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    D,

    This matter is up and running as per the link to Tommo (UUP Leader) at play in Stormo.

    See reply to Drumlin’s Rock above.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I’m sure a few things will come up by May, the big issue is the way the executive works, or fails to work, selling that failure to the electorate will be harder though, and I wouldnt go writing of seats yet!
    I’m not sure the A5 will be a big vote winner even locally, but who knows might strike a cord with some voters.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    DR,

    I may be wrong (you heard it here first) but Tommo strikes me as somoene who is happy enough to be leader and not unduly concerned about the slow decline of the party as long as it doesnt look as if he personally brought it about.

  • drumlins rock

    Just a wee update, the raod was discussed at a recent N/S Ministerial council with Connor and Edwin present, they agreed that-

    8. Ministers noted that development work has been continuing on the A5 (North West Gateway to Aughnacloy) and A8 (Belfast to Larne) including consultation with landowners and other interested parties.

    9. Ministers agreed a payment schedule including the estimated cumulative Irish Government contribution on reaching each milestone in the project.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark,

    How much was that ? I always presumed they were at least part-subsidised in the ‘national’ interest as they flew some quite unprofitable sounding routes.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    DR,

    There does not seem to be much queasiness in the DUP with this deal – perhaps part of a bigger trade between SF and the DUP. Are there any potential areas/constituencies where they could lose votes if the UUP helped to publicise local opposition?

  • laga

    I suspect that, when push comes to shove, the A5 will be favoured over the A6 as long as a SF minister is in charge. Better to have a nice big road from Letterkenny to Dublin than a half-hearted effort from Derry to Belfast (the road would still be single-carriageway over the Glenshane Pass). Especially when its a combined North-South venture. Too bad if you live in Dungiven and were expecting the traffic pollution to be tackled by the A6 by-pass.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    laga,

    as mentioned on another thread, the Labour party (Irish) are signalling that it may well face the chop – and if it is cancelled then SF will presumably be jumping up and down and accusing them of Free-State-shortsightedness.