£16 million wasted, Hidden cost of A5.

Peter Welcoming the A5 Final Route

As reported on the BBC this morning, and hi-light by Roy Beggs East Antrim MLA two weeks ago, Conor Murphy has written off £16 million spent on a scheme up-grading the A2 at Greenisland, in order to fund his politically motivated A5 white elephant in Tyrone.

It is a bit strange for a Tyrone man like myself to be putting the case for an infrastructure development in Greater Belfast in preference to one in Tyrone, but the Scot’s ancestry in me over-rides in this case, when I see wastage and disruption on this scale and knowing that it is just the tip of the A5WTC iceberg.

For an excellent summary (actually more like an in-depth assessment) of the A2, along side virtually every road scheme ever imagined in Northern Ireland, please have a look at Wesley Johnston’s amazing website: it is unbiased, easily understood and gives you as much or as little information as you need to know about any of these schemes.  Probably you will get hooked on the site, so I will set you the challenge to predict what will be the next victim of the minister’s A5 ego trip, will it be the Armagh, the Cookstown or the Magherafelt By-pass, the Yorkgate junction up-grade, or maybe the REAL access to the North West via the A6, including the much needed Dungiven by-pass?  Before the greenies amongst you say scrap them all, maybe it will be the Belfast Rapid Transport System.

In reality all of these schemes, and many more, are unlikely to go ahead due to this one political stunt, a road scheme design to carry a message rather than traffic, uniting North and South, but ignoring more practical divisions closer to home, and a financial black hole larger than the annual budgets of 6 governments departments.

But sure lets just blame the scrapped schemes on the Tories, rather than on the executive where, I’m guessing* the A5 scheme was never properly discussed, approved or put to the assembly, this is despite its likelihood to be the largest single spend during the next term assembly term. (*we have to guess because Executive secrecy wont even let you know what is secret and what is not!)

As a part of the St Andrews agreement the DUP let this Trojan horse slip through, sweetened by Bertie’s promise to virtually pay for the thing, they have cheered its progress much of the way, even up to the launch of the final route (see pic of Peter at the Launch in Dublin 2 yrs ago) with Arlene Foster and others welcoming the progress at various North South Ministerial meeting.

Recently Lord Morrow and some DUP Cllrs. have voiced concerns locally, having come under intense pressure from Tom Elliott & Kenny Donaldson, however as usual the devil is in the detail with their protestations being merely for minor amendments not a complete rethink.  Once again it is obvious the SinnDup Coalition deal takes precedence over communities, the environment and political conviction, but does it have to override economic common sense?

I’m a progressive traditionalist, liberal conservative, left wing captialist, free thinking fundamentalist, am too fond of playing devils advocate for my own good, and a fondness for the occasional shock comment, put all that together with a tendancy to drop in the odd risky one-liner(occasionally even funny ones) would lead me to issue the appeal not to take what I say too seriously.