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.

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  • DeValery had a canary

    Think they have a point as it goes

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Have SF heard about this yet? This could push Pearse right over the edge after his wee Dail rant on Tuesday.

  • John East Belfast

    LOL !

    Derry City should withdraw from the League of Ireland and Gibson should go back on bended knee to the IFA – Trappotoni wont play him anyway.

    Only really Oirish when it suits them.

    Anyhow I think it is important there is a road between Dublin and the UK’s city of culture.

  • Dec

    So, no bailout for Northern ireland?

  • drumlins rock

    Hey someone down south is talknig sence at last, I notice Fine Gael are a getting a wee bit iffy on it too…
    Lets hope the election comes soon enough for the whole thing to be shelved, or cut back to logical at least. By the way accepting that ALL the major roads schemes in NI will have to be shelved to pay for this white elephant if the South dosnt cough up, also means that at least HALF the existing schemes will to be shelved to fund it in the best possible case.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Apparently the SDLP are meeting Irish labour next week to discuss this.
    Frankly theres a strong partitionist element within Irish Labour (theres also a strong anti-partionist element) and the economic crisis does mean priorities.
    But Irish Labour has not always been as fraternal to SDLP as SDLP has been to Irish Labour.
    The Irish Labour Party was represented by a Deputy Tuffy on a Panel discussion on Irish Unity at last months SDLP Conference. Asked what she thought of Irish Unity she said “well actually Ive never really thought about it”.

    Now of cours this is BOTH typical and untypical. It kinda depends on which Labour TD you talk to.
    But at first sight this announcement does not really harm Sinn Féin but does SDLP no favours.
    The spin from next weeks meeting will be much fraternal goodwill etc. But actually it could be a bit nasty.

  • John East Belfast: “and Gibson should go back on bended knee to the IFA – Trappotoni wont play him anyway”

    LOL! I know! The north’s best player can’t even get a game for ROI! Good one John!

  • the blow – in

    I’m sure Jimmy Harte will be well impressed by thei from his colleague in Dublin Central!

    Fitzjames – What do you mean labour has a ‘partitionist’ element – what exactly do you mean – that they haven’t had a ‘wrap the green flag round me’ brigade like FF over the years?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I thought that my remarks re Irish Labour were self explanatory.

  • pippakin

    There was some flirtatious talk of a union between Labour and the SDLP last year but nothing seems to have come of it. To be honest I think Labour should have more important priorities right now. A UI is not going anywhere it will always be a priority just, at the moment, not the only one.

  • John East Belfast


    Gibson is a one trick pony and wouldnt get into the NI team either

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    John East Belfast,

    Gibson must have upset Fergie as well as he has disappeared from even the subs benches?

    But seriously we need one football team, Norn Iron are embarassing and heading towards the Andorra standard and ROI not far behind. Any good Norn Iron players who dont like the idea of playing for the South could play for England.

    I genuinely dont understand why Prods dont want to be part of a british football team – is it simply because they wouldnt get any players in the team?

    Wales should throw their lot in with England as per cricket, they still have a resonable rugby team to be getting on with.

  • Alias

    It was always up to the taxpayers of the United Kingdom to fund their road infrastructure, despite its government attempting to shift its sovereign responsibility onto the taxpayers of another state with the collusion of a quisling political class in Ireland.

    Instead of declaring that giving away Irish taxpayers money to the United Kingdom was “not a priority”, he should have declared that it was repugnant and wouldn’t occur under any financial circumstances.

  • GoldenFleece

    Aye sammy coz if Ireland and an all island football team they would be world beaters. And N Ireland as Andorra standards lol lol?

  • duthealla

    and of course this has nothing to do with the fact that SF is putting pressure on Labour in a fairly substantial way.

    Labour want it every way. They want the left vote and the centrist vote and will not nail colours to the mast for any reason.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    None of the Irish (southern) political parties actually share your ‘Free State’ view and they all consider the post GFA/STA political environment to be conducive to bringing the country closer together in business, social and cultural terms – the A5 is but an expression of that.

    Ulster’s political developments (GFA/STA) are the product of de facto joint rule and even the ‘unionist’ Tories have no intention of setting the clock back and in these circumcstances of course we should be investing in joint infrasturcure projects.

  • Alias

    Well, as it is Irish taxpayers money, why don’t we let them decide if they want to give it away to the United Kingdom to build roads or spend it hosipals in Ireland?

  • MichaelMac

    Mr Costello probably needs to appreciate that it would also open up access to Donegal from the East coast and the Midlands.
    A key argument during the by election in Donegal SW was that the area had not reaped any of the benefits of the Celtic Tiger. Mr Costello is ensuring that this policy of neglect will continue under the new administration.
    He has sealed the fate of Labour candidates in Donegal SW and Donegal NE and opened up a possible schism with FG.

    I expect SF will make a lot of mileage out of this pronouncement in both constituencies.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    It is a road between two parts of the Republic so why shouldn’t it have a contribution from the southern exchequer? However, it does apppear to me that like many road projects over the last decade it seemed a bit OTT. Is what is proposed actually neccessary even if the money was readily available?

  • Alias

    Incidentally, Sammy, if it is for a political purpose and not for the United Kingdom’s roads infrastructure then shouldn’t those who seek to benefit from that political purpose fund it out of their own pockets rather than the taxpayers of the UK funding it? I doubt that UK taxpayers want to fund it for that political purpose, and I am 100% certain that Irish taxpayers don’t want to fund it either.

    If we were to hold a referendum on whether or not the state should violate Article 17.2 of the Constitution or give hundreds of millions of Irish taxpayers’ money away to the United Kingdom, what percentage of the people would vote in favour? You’d be lucky if you got 1%.

  • Alias

    “It is a road between two parts of the Republic so why shouldn’t it have a contribution from the southern exchequer?”

    For the same reason that Spain doesn’t fund Portugal’s roads.

  • There are simple practical arguments against the A5 upgrade. Between Londonderry and Strabane is probably the busiest section and even that has some difficulty justifying a dual carriageway. Such a dual carriageway would damage a large number of farms but could potentially be argued for.

    The part between Omagh and Aughnacoly is less heavily used and it is very difficult to justify on practical grounds: there is just not that much traffic. There are other much more heavily used roads which are single carriageway with no imminent plan to upgrade. Londonderry to Belfast would be an excellent example. Coleraine to Ballymena is another pretty good example.

    If one looks at the new A4 it finishes at the Ballygawley roundabout. There is a reason for that: about half the traffic goes towards Enniskillen the other half towards Omagh. Upgrading the A5 at that point makes as much sense as upgrading the A4 to Enniskillen: too expensive in light of current circumstances.

    Anyhow if we were serious about a modern integrated transport system we would be much wiser to be thinking about railways.

  • Barry the Blender

    Turgon’s right (I am probably a bigot for thinking this) but there are a list of other wholly more important road projects that outrank the border denier’s infrastrutural dream.

    Anyone who travels westbound on the M22/A6 to find it bumper to bumper until the roundabout at the Toome by-pass will know about necessary road upgrades.

    Other schemes that jump out as being infinitely more worthwile include a by-pass of Cookstown, Ballykelly and Dungiven or upgrading what remains to be dualled on the remainder of the A6 between L’derry and Randalstown, or A26 between Colerain and Ballymena.

  • just sayin’

    Its a hard argument to sustain at the moment – and I suspect that applies regardless of what point you start from.

  • tolpuddlemartyr

    Just a stray thought slugger, but I thought Irish roads were lovely meandering rural things that I could best enjoy if I were travelling with my lover in a horse drawn gypsy caravan? By the way, Sweden is the pits see:

  • iluvni

    why dont they close some of the useless north-south bodies and put the money into the road project instead….or would tokenism be more important to sdlp and SF?

  • james

    This might have nothing to do with roads at all. Possibly an interesting gambit from Labour to smoke out SF and show some clear water between two left wing parties. It’ll be interesting to see if and how SF will react, a possiblity would be to smoke Labour out on how much cash they’re happy to pay bond holders instead, however that could backfire as it could be spun that SF are happy to give away money as well just to different ‘foreigners’

    SF with a party north of the border they could use it to their advantage.

    But for those worried about giving 500,000 to the UK should ask themselves what the UK already sells to Ireland for £18,000,000,000.00 every year that can’t be produced in Ireland.

    Burn everything English except …….

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    …..but do they actually have coal?

  • John East Belfast

    It would be very interesting to hear SF and FF opinion on this as it is damning for All Ireland political parties.

    And before anyone suggests it this is not about the best use of Govt resources and nor can it be compared to competing parts of the UK (or within Ireland for that matter) – this is based upon the recognition that there are two distinct, competing, political and fiscal jurisdictions on this island,

    Therefore how can the same political party with a central head operate with integrity in this environment ?

    SF pride themsleves as an All Ireland Party and FF have opened their Northern Office.

    However what is really apparent in this road issue (and of course what was previously said about cross border shopping and Irish food produce) is that All Ireland political parties do not work.

    the UK Mid Lothian question is nothing compared to this.

    This is important because nationalists would say that the GFA gave them equal “Irish” citisenship with the 26 counties.
    Indeed the whole outrageous IFA/FAI player eligibility row is based on this argument.

    However in pactice all Irish citisenship for Irish citisens living in (Northern) Ireland means is they can have an Irish passport, they can be Irish President and (if they are good enough) they can play for the ROI soccer team – that is it.

  • Framer

    The problem with giving civil service departments budgets that rarely diminish is that civil servants can only contemplate spending them up to the hilt.

    That is why we have more roads and by-passes than we need and the number can only continue to grow.

    A civil servant who fails to spend the lot is a bad civil servant which is why Stormont car parks are stuffed with white van men in February and March hoping to soak up the unspent money.

  • socaire

    Seán OirBheálFeirste, it also gives us a warm feeling in our innards that we aren’t British – not that there’s anything wrong with the British, mind you.

  • Dec

    “However in pactice all Irish citisenship for Irish citisens living in (Northern) Ireland means is they can have an Irish passport, they can be Irish President and (if they are good enough) they can play for the ROI soccer team – that is it.”

    You omitted that we can be a TD. What else do we miss out on exactly (other than paying taxes to the British Exchequer)? Are British citizens residing in France somehow less British than you? As for your mandatory reference to the South as an economic competitor you should probably brush up on the list of the North’s top export markets.

  • John East Belfast


    But you arent living in France – you are supposed to be living in Ireland

  • wild turkey

    would the A5 be toll road or freebie? this past summer the kids and i went to west cork, three quarters of the journey on toll roads, which i was glad to pay as the road considerably reduced the journey time…. and no, you do not need a cost benefit analysis to work that one out.

    but again, A5, toll road or freebie?
    if a toll road, two questions arise. (a)what currencies would be acceptable and (b) who would be in receipt of the toll revenue?

    if not a toll road, why not? fuck the retro-fit politics, does the road make economic sense? and if so, who benefits? who pays?

  • just sayin’

    “it also gives us a warm feeling in our innards that we aren’t British”

    Fairly sure it gives the British quite a tingle too 🙂

  • aquifer

    This is not a bad road at present.

    How about we ijust nvest in a nice coffee shop in landscaped surroundings with a conservatory, kids playground, and a smokers’ shelter, all to break the journey.

    Plus set up a website with average journey times and Dublin traffic conditions to let us time the trip better.

    £850 million could build a lot of windfarms that would produce energy instead of wasting it quicker.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    It’s such a waste of Irish taxpayers money spending capital on the roads in the north. Making inroads and building bridges is so out of touch. A large wall should be built around the place instead, more precisely, the enclaves of British folk, creating new borders and at the cost of the British taxpayer of course! It would give the idle British folk of NI much needed employment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It would be very interesting to hear SF and FF opinion on this as it is damning for All Ireland political parties.

    Not really. It’s hard to see how any big ticket infrastructure projects on this scale can be justified with the way the economy is right now. I suspect the Metro will be a casualty as well, put on hold for a few years at least.

  • John East Belfast


    It is not about scarce resources among competing projects, regions and departments within the same jurisdiction.

    I am interested in them ditching the project specifically because it is in NI and then enquiring how that ties into FF’S and SF’s dream of being an all island political party when the northern branch wont get its fair share because it really isnt Ireland.

    As I have said before on Slugger this then translates into a mega conflict of interest as that logic would clearly translate into – eg the attraction of FDI onto the island.

    Therfore if a US international was teetering on the brink of a Dublin v Belfast decision would FF central command ensure that the investment went into the ROI jurisdiction ?

    Very likely – therefore what the hell are they doing seeking electoral gains in my country ?

  • Cynic

    ” Mr Costello probably needs to appreciate that it would also open up access to Donegal from the East coast and the Midlands.”

    I am touched that you think he cares

  • Cynic

    As an ardent environmentalist, I am forced to protest at this terrible cull of white elephants. As we all know the white elephant and Celtic Tiger were almost mythic beasts that once ruled the land but are now in a sorry state – mere shadows of their former selves. We should therefore be seeking to preserve them not engage in cultural vandalism

  • Alias

    “As I have said before on Slugger this then translates into a mega conflict of interest as that logic would clearly translate into – eg the attraction of FDI onto the island.”

    Yes, and all their handlers have to do is use the Shinners to divert one big FDI project from Ireland into the United Kingdom under the guise of this all-Ireland gibberish and hundred of millions of tax revenue will flow to to the UK to off-set MI5’s budget.

  • John East Belfast

    I would be very concerned if a future SF NI Trade & Industry Minister was working with Doherty to get an FDI project to Donegall at the expense of NI to build on their electoral potential there.

    How can we get assurances that political parties with cross jurisdictional presence will act in the best interests of their own jurisdiction and not in the interests of their own Party in another jurisdiction ?

  • JohnHidd

    The Irish drunk insists on buying drinks all round, acting the big shot while the bailiffs are repossessing his farm…

  • Coll Ciotach

    Proper order – why pay for British under investment? Also stop supporting the property market here under NAMA.

  • Southern Man

    Well finally you northerners are getting a real taste of FF’s empty waffly bullshit promises.

    Ireland truly is integrating.

  • No brainer. Perhaps DRD could now plan to spend money on a decent road between Belfast and Londonderry for the UK City of Culture 2013.

  • DC

    Re Irish Labour – no need to be surprised or shocked it’s what Labour parties tend to do in times of need i.e. cut back on things outside of social welfare – benefits and hospitals – and other core public services – eduction; rather than into roads for cars. Especially for roads in NI.

    Which reminds me DRD have currently shifted the priority of the A2 Shore Road (Belfast – Greenisland – Carrickfergus) upgrade – they have now given it an amber light now, not green. Surprising as last time it was upgraded the horse and cart was around. And it’s only a small spend – £55.2m as of Oct 2007 (revised up from £41.1m; originally £21.1m).

    So now there this vainity “dualling” project being trumpeted over this smaller commuter road into Belfast with a smaller spend required to boot.

    Things mightn’t be so bad if there were decent trains to go on instead, but yes not forgetting Translink overspent on the rail upgrade and the Belfast to Larne line still has the older train stock running on because Translink ran out of money. Shitty trains and shitty roads – thanks Murphy and thank you DRD and great tender and money management Translink!

  • Dec

    “But you arent living in France – you are supposed to be living in Ireland”

    Belfast was in Ireland last time I looked. However I’m fully aware I don’t reside in the Republic of Ireland. I’m curious as to how this fact affects my Irish nationality.

  • Cynic

    “Perhaps DRD could now plan to spend money on a decent road between Belfast and Londonderry”

    God no …..we don’t want all them Derry weemin shoppin in Belfast. Its bad enough as it is.

  • An Ceide

    Its a bit like when your house is up for sale but you allow the new prospective owner to move some of their ‘stuff’ in early.

    Thats the way to look at it.

    There’s more to the northern part of ireland than just the north eastern enclave of east Antrim.

  • John East Belfast

    An Ceide

    LOL – I am thinking of putting my house up for sale -what have you got in the way of Plasma TV etc.
    I could also use a new Fridge Freezer ?

    Would you like to do some prospecting and let me have some of your stuff while you are at it – no promises mind and you agree that what goes into my house stays there.

  • DC

    There’s more to the northern part of ireland than just the north eastern enclave of east Antrim.

    Trouble is the rest of the regions in Northern Ireland in terms of its public transport provision be it roads or rail have done better than some parts East Antrim (the Larne harbour to Belfast A8 road has been approved and should start 2011, it is linked to “peace dividend” money as well, courtesy of the Irish government; but for the obvious connectivity reasons and trade benefits it could be hard to knock that back; however, work is still only scheduled to happen).

    Larne Council have been campaigning for the route to be dualled but until 2006 Roads Service had no plans to proceed in the following 10 years. However, during the optimistic political developments of April 2007 the Irish government offered a “peace dividend” to build infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The two schemes to benefit were the dualling of the A5 from Londonderry to the Irish border at Aughnacloy, and this scheme to dual the A8.

    But going back shore side between Belfast and Carrickfergus: no new trains, no new roads. Despite both being promised; the introduction of both seem to be getting knocked back – time and time again. I’m told the new trains are coming end of 2011 – but I wont hold my breath.

    My view is that just like unionist absence in certain voluntary and community sectors the participation deficit there has a read across into local governance. I think people from these areas just aren’t assertive enough in terms of ensuring equality of provision of road and rail services in their own area. I think there was a case most definitely for pushing harder to get some new trains onto the Larne line for some of the time – perhaps even peak services – it may have meant reductions in the frequency of services on other lines but so be it.

    In terms of problems with democratic participation take Co Down and over in Bangor, I had heard recently that in the loyalist Kilcooley estate only 25% (largely working class) are registered to vote – same kind of problems arise there. Staggering levels of under-representation. I’d be interested to know if there are any other areas with similar levels.

  • An Ceide

    To be honest the Larne line just needs a few more climbing lanes for HGV’s, the traffic on the line is not consistently busy enough to warrant dual carriageway from larne to belfast. They definetly do need to upgrade some of the old bone shaker trains, not nice on a cold winters evening.

  • cannyulsterman

    An Ceide is 100% correct. The proposed A8 road scheme was cooked up with the aim of spending as much money as possible on a overly elaborate solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist. Estimated cost = £113 million pounds, estimated average time saving on the journey from Larne to Belfast = 3 minutes, and I believe that’s a pie in the sky figure considering the off-line detours planned. The number of vehicles on the A8 road each day is decreasing, and there’s been a significant decrease over the past 4 years, I’ve seen the figures! If we’ve got money to spend, let’s put it into building a decent public transport system, something we really do need.

  • MichaelMac

    Cynic says:
    9 December 2010 at 11:52 pm

    “I am touched that you think he cares”

    What “touchs” you is of no relevance to the thread.

  • joeCanuck

    Turgon is right as was Drumlin’s Rock? when he argued against this dual carriageway a year or two ago. Major improvements have taken place in the past 30 years, bypasses around Strabane, Newtownstewart, Omagh etc but there are sections which still badly need upgrading, the horrible bend at Bready which has taken quite a few unwary lives, bypass around Sion Mills etc. But the expense of a dual carriageway along the whole route is not necessary right now.
    But does this mean that the ILP is watering down their commitment to a U.I.?