Irish Labour Party: “giving Northern Ireland £400million towards its roads is not a priority”

The Irish News today reports comments from the Irish Labour Party’s transport spokesman, Joe Costello, TD, which cast doubt on the proposed £850million upgrade of the A5 between Londonderry and Aughnacloy.  From the Irish News report

…Mr Costello claimed that while it was “fine to make commitments in the middle of the Celtic Tiger years”, the southern state could no longer afford “grandiose schemes”.

“At the present time, we are experiencing savage cutbacks in education, health and social welfare.  Giving Northern Ireland £400million towards its roads is not a priority for the Labour Party,” he said.

“We are no longer in a position to fund the section of the [Dublin-Derry] road in the south so how could we fund the northern section?”

The Dublin TD said he was certain people in the north would “appreciate” that their southern counterparts were experiencing straitened circumstances.

He said “all big road schemes will have to be reviewed carefully” by the next government.

Mr Costello later also issued a statement criticising the government for slashing the south’s budget for road improvements and maintenance by 30% while “the onnly increase in the transport budget is extra funding to help build a new road in Northern Ireland between Aughnacloy and Derry, an increase of 236 per cent.”

And from a separate report online here

Ironically, as the public consultation and Environmental Statement for the A5 dual carriageway, to be built from the N2/Border to Derry, and on to Letterkenny was published, Labour’s Transport Spokesman, Joe Costello, said: “Ireland is in the worst recession in the history of the State.

“Spending one billion euro on a new road from Dublin to Derry including a €500 million spend in Northern Ireland will certainly not be a priority for the Labour Party while essentials such as health and education are being savagely cut.

“The Labour Party has made it clear that we will be revisiting the National Development Plan and Transport 21 in the context of the present state of the public finances. A realistic cost benefit analysis will be applied to every project,” he said.

Should Labour form a substantial part of any new Dáil administration in 2011 after the coming elections, Mr Costello said: “We are no longer in a position to fund the road in the South, so how could we fund the northern section?”

Now, experts are predicting that if the Republic fails to deliver the €500m then the Stormont Executive could only proceed if all other road works in NI are halted for five years and therefore may be forced instead to settle for a partial redevelopment, or to defer the contract.