Irish Labour Party: “We may not be in a position to build the road from Dublin…”

Thanks to today’s Irish News we have the response from the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, to comments from Irish Labour Party transport spokesman, Joe Costello, which cast doubt on the proposed £850million upgrade of the A5 between Londonderry and Aughnacloy.

From the Irish News report

Mr Murphy said last night it was too late for the Republic to back out of its commitment to the project because the contract had already been signed and a payment plan agreed by the Irish government.

“Those payments are being met,” he said.

“This isn’t simply a project which is sitting there for someone to decide if it will happen or not.”

Except that Conor Murphy went on to say

“I think it would be a huge mistake and an abandonment of the people of the north west if this project were to be reneged on by any government in Dublin,” he told Radio Ulster.

It’s still an option for the Irish government then?  Presumably because any contract in place, in relation to the Londonderry to Aughnacloy A5 upgrade, will have been between the NI Executive [or just DRD] and developers. 

 Of course, if there is any default involved, the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister can always try to take the Irish government to court…

And as the Irish News report continues

However, Labour’s transport spokesman Joe Costello reiterated comments he made to The Irish News, saying the Republic might not be able to afford it.

“We may not be in a position required to build the road from Dublin as far as Aughnacloy, not to talk about making a half billion contribution to Aughnacloy to Derry,” he said.

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  • Drumlins Rock

    Can I remind people that there is a Public Inquiry into both need for and design of the A5 due to be held in the new year, nothing is set in stone until at least this Inquiry has reported back its findings, it may be that commonsense will prevail and the need for the road may be overruled at that stage.

  • pippakin

    Oh well, its wonderful to know that Conor Murphy is concerned about the people of the north west.

    What a prat!

  • The Word

    I understand that it was the SDLP who got this commitment from the Irish government, not Conor Murphy.

    In view of the fact that it was the neglect of unionist and British governments that has rendered the present road inadequate, I think there may be a case for the British government stepping into the void and tidying up this matter if Dublin feels unable to.

    That might give others a chance to gloat, Pete.

  • Drumlins Rock

    TW, are you happy enough to cancel just about every other major road scheme in Northern Ireland for the next decade to build a mortorway that isnt needed?

  • Alias

    The Shinners are in service of their employers, the British state. Here is a British minister in a British devolved administration seeking to divert hundreds of millions of Irish taxpayers money into the United Kingdom. We also had another Shinner minister, Michelle Gildernew, threaten to take the Irish government to the European Court if they continued to buy meat products from farms in Ireland, benefiting the Irish economy, as opposed to buying British meat and benefiting Her Majesty’s Exchequer.

  • Turgon

    It is far from clear that the road is at all inadequate. It is more lightly used than a large number of partly or wholly single carriage way roads in Northern Ireland: Londonderry to Belfast, Larne to Belfast, Coleraine to Ballymena; I think even Coleraine to Londonderry.

    There are areas which might benefit from upgrades and bends being fixed but as someone who has used that road very frequently even its busiest section (Strabane to Londonderry) is not that busy. The section from Omagh to the Ballygawley roundabout actually has fairly lightly traffic; between Ballygawley and Aughnacloy even more so.

    There is no doubt that transport infrastructure in Northern Ireland is less than ideal: however, the main problem is the lack of alternatives to road transport. Spending money on improving the railways and maybe even extending the railway lines (including cross border) would be a much wiser (and more environmentally friendly) option.

  • The Word

    DR

    “Isn’t needed”

    That’s very subjective. A man living up in the North West might say that it is long overdue and has been postponed for a long time now of the basis that the North West “isn’t needed”.

  • Turgon

    The word,
    The problem is that this road upgrade is needed less than many others such as Coleraine to Ballymena.

    However, to stick with the North west the A5 upgrade is needed less than a dual carriageway is needed from Londonderry all the way to Belfast. Hence, in the absence of such a dual carriageway dualling the A5 is simply a white elephant. It is a very strange form of subjectivity that is required to suggest that a dual carriageway to Aughnacloy (even if it leads on to Dublin) is more important than one to Belfast.

  • Barry the Blender

    Turgon you are right that in terms of priority the A6 outranks the A5. Certainly a dual carriage way would be a bonus, but I expect dualling all the way from L’derry to Randalstown seems rather too ambitious. But would it be any more so than the current A5 project?

    A look a Wesley Johnston’s site suggests that they’re doing it is stages: Castledawson to Randalstown to begin next year and Derry to the end of Dungiven (which gets bypassed) is to commence in 2013. Both should be prioritised ahead of this unused corridor.

    I understand that it was the SDLP who got this commitment from the Irish government, not Conor Murphy.
    Hasn’t exactly helped them electorally in the road’s immediate surroundings.

  • feismother

    Back in the seventies I was a student in Dublin going to and from the North-West. The best part of the road was south to Ballygawley.

    In the past year I’ve made a number of trips to Dublin. The journey is dreadful until you get to Ballygawley.

    If we can’t have a decent road to Belfast, can we not have one to Dublin?

  • Turgon

    Barry,
    Thank you.
    It is clear that the road Londonderry would benefit most from in terms of improvement is the road to Belfast. However, the obsession with roads is problematic. In many other European countries it is realised that an integrated transport system is what is required. Modernising the railway line between Londonderry and Belfast would be more useful than upgrading the A5. Indeed if we want to go for somewhat grandiose schemes a railway from Londonderry to Dublin would probably be no more inappropriate than the dual carriageway.

    It always irritates me when I drive along the Colgher Valley and wish I was dozing or reading the paper rather than holding a steering wheel. The bus is slower than a car whereas a train would be far faster. Once upon a time there was a train of course. Indeed you could get on in Belfast and go to Sligo or all manner of places out west. Clearly such a huge system would not be possible (it never made much any money) but it is high time people on this island saw past the obsession with the car.

  • The Word

    Turgon

    I think the people of the NorthWest are keen to improve all routes. A lot of them talk about past neglect. They look at Galway and Cork and Limerick rather than than Belfast and see all those fine roads.

  • Turgon

    The Word,
    You make my point for me better than I did myself. The Northwest was relatively neglected though so was the Southwest; indeed most of Northern Ireland had relatively poor infrastructure though we need to remember it also has a very small population and population density. It is a fallacy to regard England and especially Wales and Scotland as coming down with motorways.

    If money is limited as it is at the moment what is needed is the most “bang for buck”; that is clearly not going to be delivered by creating a dual carriageway to Aughnacloy. Rather the road to Belfast (or Coleraine) would make more sense.

    When (if) there is significant money for investment in the future yes one could consider a dual carriageway to Aughnacloy. However, if there were considerable sums of money a much more modern, environmentally friendly and progressive option would be to consider rail links to Dublin amongst other places.

    At the moment a dual carriageway on the A6 is a low priority for NI, the RoI or even for the Northwest of NI. Hence, if we can afford fewer projects this is simply not one which makes any sense.

  • Munsterview

    There is a little more to this than meets the eye and not is not all to do with saving a few bob that could be better used elsewhere. The rise of Sinn Fein could be enough to turn the Gilmore Gale into at best a stiff breeze. It will make the difference between being ahead of or behind FG and that could in turn decide the Big T.

    So how do Labor throw a spanner in Sinn Fein’s wheel and start people questioning their decisions and spending priorities without actually pissing off the new sections of the Southern public recently enamored with Sinn Fein?

    One obvious way is to create a song and a dance about Free State money being spend on foreigners. It do not matter that the amount concerned is only enough to buy support for the Government from a certain Munster TD, for about six months!

    Just wait until the Rabbit and Co come up with their tuppence worth against SF, these are just the opening shots of Labour trying to stop hemorrhage to Sinn Fein on its left flank. As the Red C polls firm up for Sinn Fein and show Labor stalled, expect Labour to get more hysterical about SF.

    I also would not be at at all surprised to find that that some of Labor will have to deal with another road,…..their own road travelled……. and some of that could prove to be a bit sticky for them !

  • aquifer

    If Dublin to Donegal is an awful drive then let one driver do it for the rest of us. Ulsterbus’s express services have been a great success, but Bus Eirean’s were patchy the last time I tried to use them and failed. DRD set up a car share scheme which could be modernised with mobile phone SMS technology.

  • pippakin

    MV

    The point is Conor Murphy allowed himself to be suckered into making a silly and financially incendiary statement by Labour. I might unthinkingly make a mistake with dates or put the decimal point in the wrong place that, provided I’m not doing it with my money! is the luxury of distance and retirement. Conor Murphy should have been able to see that one coming it was ‘telegraphed’ from Dublin!

    It would be in SFs electoral interest in the south to take every opportunity to remind the north, and everyone else, that they are at the moment feeling the south’s financial pain, as no doubt all republicans are…

  • Rory Carr

    “The point is Conor Murphy allowed himself to be suckered into making a silly and financially incendiary statement by Labour.” – Pippakin

    Can anyone please provide a translation for English speakers ?

  • pippakin

    Rory Carr

    I might have known! and, is this a first? you are right I mangled that sentence!

    Never mind, at least you read it! .As you know I live for these little encounters…

  • Sean Og

    What about the proposed Narrow Water Bridge over Carlingford Lough? Dermot Ahern promised to put up the €14m required for it following Louth County Council’s study. It was even in the Programme for Govt last year.

    Has it been dropped?
    I remember seeing PJ Bradley on Stormont live happy as a pig in s*** ! I think PJ was the only person in South Down who wanted it and actually believed it would ever happen.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The rise of Sinn Fein could be enough to turn the Gilmore Gale into at best a stiff breeze. It will make the difference between being ahead of or behind FG and that could in turn decide the Big T.

    Are you a betting man ? Let’s hear where you’re putting your money.

    So how do Labor

    FYI, Irish people call it Labour”.

  • Turgon

    “FYI, Irish people call it Labour.”
    Well spotted Comrade

  • The Word

    “Labor”

    That’s the American “communists” advancing the interests of their Irish comrades, just so that everybody knows that their hands are tied to past generosity.

    Turgon

    I think you miss the point. All roads need improving but priorities need to be made for neglected regions. It never surprises me to find that unionists find “money” arguments to knock other arguments because those arguments back their position nearly all the time.

    Your argument would seem to be that only Belfast should get priority and that may be a “money” argument but It is also a unionist argument. I think you’ll eventually find that that world has gone now. Other regions have needs.

  • joeCanuck

    Isn’t there an Irish folk song called “Rocky road to Dublin”?

  • Turgon

    The word,
    I do wish people would not tell lies about what I have said. It is especially pointless when what I said is written above.

    I stated above that: “The Northwest was relatively neglected though so was the Southwest”

    I agree the Northwest needs improved road links. The point at issue is that economically the NW would benefit a great deal more from improvement of the A6 Belfast road than the A5. Although the A6 is the road to Belfast the bit that needs improvement is still in the NW.

    Hence, when you state that I think “only Belfast should get priority” you are simply telling lies.

    Mine is not a unionist argument, I have made no unionist (or nationalist arguments). The argument that the A5 is the road most in need of upgrading is not even really a nationalist argument. It is simply a silly counter factual one.

    With the limited budget available the road in NI which surely needs upgrading most is the A6 at the Londonderry end. Other roads need upgrading too but it is a very high or quite possibly the highest priority.

    Now maybe accept that you were telling lies when you stated that I felt Belfast should get priority.

  • Munsterview

    ComradeS…… “The rise of Sinn Fein could be enough to turn the Gilmore Gale into at best a stiff breeze……”

    Could ….. is the operative word here ! I did not claim the rise of SF would or will. The reason for this is over my politically active life I have enough direct experience, and indeed directed enough activity before, during and after elections, at every stage of operations to know how these things can pan out.

    In Southern Ireland at present it is not just a matter of a Week being a long time in politics, a single day is and we have have even seen situations change by the hour.

    Political reputations are falling like bowling pins, Linehan came into this crisis with the reputation of being one of the smartest people in Irish politics, he is now leaving government regarded as ‘the village idiot’ of Finance Ministers not alone in Ireland, but also in European politics.

    As I bloged elsewhere in with regard to Lenihan, by the time it became evident that the ’emperor had no clothes’, he had left the rest of us without any clothes as well.

    We came into this banking crisis with Joe Higgings, Boy Barrett and the rest of the Left / Radical groupings marginalized, voices in the wilderness, now they are back major players and a major worry to Labour, much more than SF in fact as their votes and support will in the main come from the traditional Labour voting public.

    Sinn Fein position at the start of this crisis was one of political potential rather than serious player, now things have changed utterly for the party and they have to be factored into every future political equation.

    The week before the IMF moved in I wrote to a Canadian friend following the Irish situation closely because of the IMF/ International Financiers situation that we would either have an explosion or a slow burn on this crisis. If we were to have an explosion, it would be left field, black swan, stuff like the Old Age Pensioned that coalesced out of nowhere and backed down the Government in just two weeks.

    If it was a slow burn, then it there was an open powder keg there just waiting for the spark all the way up to an election and the spark was as likely to come from outside politics as inside the system. That still is the situation !

    There is a bit to go to the election yet, the political pundits may be burying FF but Cowen has halted the party free fall inside the party, in my view, the current situation has floored and the % are rising. FF may be excrement at defending the country but boy, can they defend the party. The shell shock is over and they are coming out fighting. More on that later hopefully !

    The only certainty in the current situation is that there are no certainties, or at least very few and all are looking through the glass darkly. One of the few is that Sinn Fein will emerge from the next election as significant players in the South with their marginalization days in Southern politics over.

    As to calling it in terms of SF seats in the South, they are far too many variables in the mix and it is only when I have seen the complete candidate list and parties in constituencies, existing and those yet to be formed, that I will get begin to message the figures in the computer. Until ‘informed’ claims as to the overall candidates returned and the likely shape of the next Dail is not authoritative political prediction, it is political punditry.

    There is a difference and informed people should bear that in mind !

    Turgon : as snipers go you should stick to politics, little and all as the your voting % and that of the Truly Useless Vestige of Unionism were, you got better results in that field!

  • joeCanuck

    Turgon,

    You probably cannot really get through to someone who has pretensions. See John 1.1

  • Munsterview

    JoeC

    If that barb was aimed at SF, I would be more inclined to go with John 1 : 5 !

    Anyway what is a confirmed atheists like you doing with the bible ?

    Like G Fields explained on his death bed when found with a bible, ‘looking for loop holes, looking for loop holes’ are we ?

  • joeCanuck

    MV,

    That wouldn’t be S.F., surely, just G.A..

  • Turgon

    Munster Mitty,
    Just a thought but seeing as the topic of the thread is the A5 and its upgrade do you have any thoughts on the issue?

    You may be unaware so I will help you: the A5 is a road from Londonderry (or Derry) in the Northwest of Northern Ireland (and indeed of the island). The road goes roughly south southeast and the NI part terminates at Aughnacloy. On crossing the border the road goes to Dublin: that being the capital of the RoI.

    This discussion is then about a road on the island of Ireland. You may have heard of this place: it is one of the two main islands in the British Isles (though I accept you may not like the term British). These islands are off the edge of Europe: that is the continent to the east of North America (a place you are probably more familiar with) across the Atlantic Ocean.

    If you wish to make any comments on this road please by all means do so.

  • joeCanuck

    MV,

    Was that W.C. Fields or George Burns?

  • Munsterview

    Joe,

    just checked, thinkexist.com are usually pretty good on these things, they confirm Fields!

    W. C. Fields quotes : “I’m looking for loopholes. (Said when caught reading the Bible.)”
    W. C. Fields quotes (American Comic and Actor, 1880-1946)

  • The Word

    Turgon

    The “most bang for buck” argument within the North has always centred on the needs of Belfast. While I acknowledge that you did not say that directly, it was an implication of your argument.

    The road doesn’t stop at Aughnacloy. I would say the same to the Irish Labour Party. Just off the phone to someone in Derry and they’re saying that the road to Belfast was once the priority – but was always hindered by unionists. Now these same people want them to prioritise it, rather than help improve links to Dublin. Have they a strategy or is it just confusion they seek?

  • Turgon

    The Word,
    No I specifically stated that Belfast was not where the greatest need for roads was: hence, again we see you are telling lies. If I specifically stated the opposite of what you (lyingly) claim was my implication then you are lying.

    The fact that you defend your lie about me simply shows the weakness of your argument.

    It is also bizarre that you cannot see past the unionist / nationalist thing. The fact that a unionist talks about the A6 means it must be bad. Not much lateral thinking with you is there? Furthermore you can see nothing beyond roads.

    Your obsession with the upgrade of one road with an added piece of nonsense that a conversation with one person which you claim to have had means that the population of the northwest wants the A5 upgrade is utterly pathetic nonsense.

    Essentially that sums up your approach: tell lies, introduce unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable pseudo arguments and ignore the simple facts that the A5 has less traffic than many other roads. All a bit pathetic. Still why not tell a few more lies about what I have said.

  • The Word

    Sorry, Turgon. I wasn’t reading all you said.

    But I maintain that the people of the NW will not be happy until they have proper road links to the major cities on this island. They look increasingly to the South where investment in roads has been appropriate to creating decentralised centres of economic activity that take the strain off the infrastructure in Dublin. Belfast has a history of seeking to keep all to itself, no matter about the strain on its infrastructure.

  • Turgon

    The Word,
    Okay I was too sharp: my apologies.

    Actually I have no complaint about the people of the NW demanding better links. However, I do think going forward it would be wiser to look at rail links. Once upon a time Derry / Londonderry was well served by trains. Now there is the frankly embarrassing train service which (having been improved from when I was a student) still takes two hours or more.

    If there was a proper express train from L’Derry to Dublin it might take say 90 minutes with little difficulty. Then commuting between the two cities might be realistic. A road is never going to achieve less than a 2 hour (probably nearly 3 hour) commute which is impractical.

    Clearly such a train would take in Omagh (maybe an extension line to Enniskillen: why not call it the Clogher valley line).

    Of course a proper train service to Belfast would also be essential.

    I do feel that everyone on this island is far too wedded to road transport which is not seen as the way of the future in most of Europe. We could achieve a lot (when there is some money) re public transport but instead we continue to use roads (along with bus lanes as a sop to public transport). Whilst the car is so overwhelmingly king we will also continue to see the high levels of deaths on our roads. I suspect the car culture especially amongst young people is in part due to our almost complete lack of alternatives.

  • Turgon

    Sorry missed out a bit: second try:

    The Word,
    Okay I was too sharp: my apologies.

    Actually I have no complaint about the people of the NW demanding better links. However, I do think going forward it would be wiser to look at rail links. Once upon a time Derry / Londonderry was well served by trains. Now there is the frankly embarrassing train service which (having been improved from when I was a student) still takes two hours or more to get to Belfast and meanders via Coleraine.

    If there was a proper express train from L’Derry to Dublin it might take say 90 minutes with little difficulty. Then commuting between the two cities might be realistic. A road is never going to achieve less than a 2 hour (probably nearly 3 hour) commute which is impractical.

    Clearly such a train would take in Omagh (maybe an extension line to Enniskillen: why not call it the Clogher valley line).

    Of course a proper train service to Belfast would also be essential.

    I do feel that everyone on this island is far too wedded to road transport which is not seen as the way of the future in most of Europe. We could achieve a lot (when there is some money) re public transport but instead we continue to use roads (along with bus lanes as a sop to public transport). Whilst the car is so overwhelmingly king we will also continue to see the high levels of deaths on our roads. I suspect the car culture especially amongst young people is in part due to our almost complete lack of alternatives.

  • The Word

    I can’t disagree with that, Turgon. I feel all things are possible in time.

  • Munsterview

    Turgon : “….Just a thought but seeing as the topic of the thread is the A5 and its upgrade do you have any thoughts on the issue?…..”

    Is this an invite to directly respond to you ? I was under the impression that you did not directly engage with SF or it’s supporters. Have you changed your stance in this regard ?

    Once you have clarifies this little matter I will consider my response !

  • Alias

    Has anyone compared a road map of Northern Ireland with a road map of Ireland? The striking difference is the amount of roads that NI has compared to Ireland. In reality, NI should be transferring British taxpayers’ money to build roads in Ireland so that we can catch up with their infrastructure, not vice versa.

  • Boglover

    Let us be realistic for a moment; what do 10 minutes off the journey from Derry to Aughnacloy matter? The only justification for the new road that has any basis in reality is the safety case, in that just upgrading the existing roads is going to leave far too many junctions that are dangerous to travelers and pedestrians. Of course there will be those (in the media?) who say that no price is too high if it saves lives. However, I see nothing much new here to justify spending £10m per kilometre to save a couple of lives per year.

    Given that there are already agreements on using hospitals cross-border, wouldn’t more lives be saved by upgrading the worst stretches of the A5 and ploughing the remainder of the £850m into medical services along the route?

  • Drumlins Rock

    I think Boglover sums it up pretty well, while all road deaths are regrettable the executives finite resources have to be directed where they are most needed, and the need in this case is weak. Road deaths on the A5 are below the average for similar types of roads, and with a fraction of the investment the worst blackspots can be dealt with, as well as probably shaving of much of the 10min journey time.

  • STG

    All roads lead from Dublin now?

  • joeCanuck

    Well, here’s an amusing anecdote about Irish roads.
    My wife and I go back to Ireland for a couple of weeks every second year or so. We usually stay a lot with one of my brothers. He was golf mad as I and our wives used to be before age caught up with us. One year about 15 years ago, we decided to play as many different golf courses in and around tyrone and donegal. We managed 10 in 12 days.
    One of the courses was unknown to us but was highly recommended by a friend of my brother; somewhere in the wilds of donegal. We got rough directions and set off early one morning. We followed the directions and thought we must be getting close when suddenly, as the road got narrower, grass was growing down the middle of the road; never a good sign. We turned a corner and saw a tractor coming towards us; this was a single lane road. No room to pass. the farmer pulled his tractor into the ditch to let us pass. When we drew level my brother wound down his window, said good day and asked the farmer “Does this road go anywhere?” The farmer pondered for a few seconds then replied “Young man, have you ever been on a road that didn’t go somewhere?”. Hmm. Different tactic: If we continue, where will this road take us?”. Again, a few seconds and the farmer says, “Son, this road will take you to anywhere you want to go in the whole Country”. I think he had a degree in philosophy. So another tactic; Can we get to ***** golf course from here?”. “Of course” he says but you would be better to go back to ****village and start from there”. So we made it; lovely little 9 hole course. 10 punts to play but it was open Week and there was a competition on, 5 punts to enter. So we entered. I won a minor prize, 4 crystal whisky glasses. We still have one. Great day.