Irish Government ‘postpones’ £400m A5 upgrade funding

Given the dire economic situation, and the fact that the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister isn’t due to decide how the A5 Western Transport Corridor is to progress until “early 2012”, it’s hardly surprising that the Irish Government has withdrawn its £400million contribution to the £850million scheme.  The RTÉ report describes it as being ‘postponed’ after a “review of a range of major capital infrastructure commitments”.  [Indefinitely? – Ed]  You might well think that…

As Irish Labour Party transport spokesman,  Joe Costello, said back in December 2010

“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,” [Mr Costello] said.

And there’s little political imperative to do so there.

Adds  The updated BBC report quotes the NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

The Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said he was disappointed, but understood the Irish government’s position.

“They couldn’t give a commitment between now and 2016,” he said.

“Our budget only runs to 2014-15 so there’s no money coming within our own budget period.

“For this budget period the road cannot be financed and cannot be built.”

Mr Wilson said that the executive’s contribution to the A5 would now be spent elsewhere.

“We’re looking at how we re-profile that and what we spend it on,” he said

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  • Dec

    You could have mentioned the Government suspended funding in the Metro West rail project a couple of months ago. Money’s tight – nothing more than that.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Pete, I believe the minister legally can’t decide until the inquiry reports back in the new year, which was always going to be the earliest, I hope your dig at him was as un-intentional as it is inaccurate. I genuinely hope that the £400 million will come someday to upgrade important infastructure in the northern section of the island, but not in a white elephant scheme. Hopefully this will allow Danny Kennedy to release more of his budget to diserving schemes, such as the much more vital A6 upgrade to the North West.
    PS. What about the A8 this money was also supposed to be part funding?

  • Pete Baker

    DR

    What “dig”? I was stating a fact.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds The updated BBC report quotes the NI Finance Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

    The Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said he was disappointed, but understood the Irish government’s position.

    “They couldn’t give a commitment between now and 2016,” he said.

    “Our budget only runs to 2014-15 so there’s no money coming within our own budget period.

    “For this budget period the road cannot be financed and cannot be built.”

    Mr Wilson said that the executive’s contribution to the A5 would now be spent elsewhere.

    “We’re looking at how we re-profile that and what we spend it on,” he said

  • galloglaigh

    According to a Radio Foyle listener, Sammy Wilson’s department only has £212,000,000 available for the A5. This money was for infrastructure projects for the Northwest, and West of the Bann in general. The money should now be used to upgrade the rail line between Derry and Belfast or the A6 upgrade. The Northwest has suffered from underinvestment for too long. The money should be spent on the infrastructure leading to Derry city, be it the A6 or the rail link to Belfast.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Pete I quote
    “and the fact that the Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister isn’t due to decide how the A5 Western Transport Corridor is to progress until early 2012″

    This had nothing to do with decision, I don’t know why you included it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Gollog, I would generally agree the A6 should prob get the bulk of it as it is the most vital connection to the North West, but other parts of the west need investment too, including the A5 on a smaller scale, and A4 west of Ballgawley. I would hope most of this money still comes west.

  • Pete Baker

    DR

    “I don’t know why you included it.”

    Well, if you had of asked, I would have suggested that it highlights an element of doubt about the scheme’s progression.

    That’s not a “dig” at anyone. It’s simply a fact.

  • iluvni

    Now that the Sinn Fein vanity project has been shelved, the A2 Shore Road improvement scheme should go ahead as planned.

  • Obelisk

    “Now that the Sinn Fein vanity project has been shelved, the A2 Shore Road improvement scheme should go ahead as planned.”

    Yeah that’s going to play well. Money previously earmarked to develop the West ploughed into yet another Belfast road.

    The ‘postponment’ of the A5 road is a tragedy for the west but not unexpected. But whatever funds are now should be invested into other projects in the area in order to help it.

    We need some decent infrastructure out here too you know, the North isn’t just Greater Belfast.

  • OneNI

    Here’s a sound principle on deciding were to spend scare resources – its employed by the Conservatives nationally.

    ‘Spend capital where it will have the best economic impact’

    If that is in the East then so be it. Enough of sectarian decisions.

    Can I also disabuse Dec et al of the notion that the A5 scheme and Metro West have merely been ‘postponed’

    This phraseology is being used because the A5 is part of St Andrews so to offically abandon it would break the agreement.
    Likewise Metro West has a clause in the contract that if it is abandoned the private companies involved get 1m Euro – hence it too is ‘postponed.’

    The A5 scheme was a ridiculous SF vanity project the DUP should be ashamed of themselves for going along with it. And as for the UUP – they stood on an anti platform and promptly did nothing when in office (other than stand behind the fig leaf of the public inquiry).

  • Obelisk

    “Enough of sectarian decisions”

    Good Idea. It’s a pity the Ministers who ran Stormont during the fifty years of One Party Rule hadn’t heeded it, else we might not have the current inbalance of infrastructure between the East and the West which STILL needs to be addressed.

  • OneNI

    Sorry Obelisk two wrongs dont make a right.
    I am from West Tyrone but is this scheme more valuable economically than than A2widening, the Sydenham bypass widening, the A6 or the York Road flyover? No it isnt under any rationale analysis.

    Correction: the £1m clawback clause is in the Metro NORTH contract.

    Ask yourself this. The Dublin Govt have had to postpone the Metro West line to Tallaght. They are about to postpone the Metro North and the Luas link up. All schemes that would be beneficial to hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens. When the Republic’s Govt eventually digs itself out of this hole do you really think the A5 will take priority over ANY of the above schemes?

  • OneNI

    Mark Durkan:
    “In particular I would like officials and ministers to come to understandings and give undertakings which would allow work on the Derry-Strabane stretch to go ahead. I certainly take it from Sammy Wilson that he would be happy to move forward in this way if some fund flow could be promised from southern budgets in the next budget period.”

    ‘I certainly take it from Sammy’
    Looks like a case of never let a rationale decision get in the way of a sectarian stitch up!

    Will Danny Kennedy yet be the mouse that roars?

    BTW Traffic flows on the Omagh-Aughnacloy stretch are heavier than Strabane to Londonderry Mark but I guess that isnt in your constituency!

  • galloglaigh

    Drumlins Rock

    I agree with you 100%. It’s now time for the West to be afforded a fair share of the budget, so that we can all prosper. Belfast is the only part of this island, that ever prospered since the Act of Union 1800. That was a long time ago. Two centuries of neglect, has rendered the West as an economic blackspot. Greater Belfast has had its fill. It’s time the rest of got our fair share of the now nearly eaten pie!

  • Pleased to see Sammy Wilson take an adult stance. It’s not just Metro West – Metro North and Interconnector are sure for the chop. At best, LUAS BX-D (Stephen’s Green-Broombridge) might make it. It would be politically impossible to grant NI a half billion when five billion of public transport projects have been or will be wiped out in the south.

    The mistake the NI govt made during the negotations was of course was to ask for a grant. If they held bonds in Irish banks bought at the bottom of the market, on the other hand…

  • Decimus

    How about taking that money and ploughing it into the local hospitals.

  • Into the west

    this is one of those times where
    the road to perdition
    and the road to partition
    trip over each other.

  • There are important safety upgrades needed on the A5 (e.g. the 90 degree bend at Bready (scene of many accidents over the years). These should go ahead, and so should a Sion Mills bypass with funds that are available. These could be situated to fit in with the proposed route of the new road if it ever goes ahead.

  • brian a wilson

    This is welcome if not unexpected news.
    I have campaigned against this excessive scheme since 2009 when I hosted a meeting of opponents at Stormont.

    They convinced me as to the adverse environmental impact of the new route and how they safety could be improved at a fraction the price.
    It would be irresponsible to proceed with this scheme at present given the pressure on the health, education and housing budgets.

  • Lionel Hutz

    As someone who uses the A5 frequently, I’m very disappointed. It almost has the effect of making the investment in the dual carriageway from dungannon to Ballygawleya bit of a waste. We’ll never see a return on it. A good road to nowhere. I would rarely go to Derry, even though I like the place, mainly because it takes far too long to get there and I would have frgotten about Strabane but for the best cinema in the world, and its really in Lifford.

    Thats the effect of it.The west is closed.

  • Framer

    Great news, especially as the number of cars on our roads is bound to decline in the next decade of austerity.

    Perhaps we can now query the curse of the annual departmental budget being maintained. In other words I have the money so find me something to spend it on.

    We must develop some way of saying no to the inevitability of more NI prestige schemes.

  • Turgon

    Lionel Hurtz,,
    “It almost has the effect of making the investment in the dual carriageway from Dungannon to Ballygawley a bit of a waste. “

    Let us think about that claim for a moment. The A4 dual carriageway is to the Ballygawley roundabout. At that point the road splits into the A4 to Enniskillen through the Clogher Valley and the A5 to Omagh and Strabane via Newtownstewart. I agree that a little more than half the traffic does go towards the A5 but a significant amount goes down the A4. Hence, where the road is busiest prior to the Ballygawley roundabout it is indeed a dual carriageway, thereafter it is single carriageway. As such the A4 to the roundabout is far from a waste. Rather it is exactly how it should be: where the greatest traffic volumes are there is dual carriageway; after the roads split it is single carriageway.

    The fact that you report that you rarely use that roads seems to be borne out by the fact that you fail to understand that the extension of the dual carriageway from Dungannon to the Ballygawley roundabout has been a major boon to people going both to Omagh and Enniskillen and all points before and after them. It has been very far from a waste.

  • Zig70

    If you look at a road map of Ireland then the A5 devlopment is a no brainer. It’s the last main cross country link. The reduced travelling time has increased the market potential of Ireland and Donegal is left behind.

  • Obelisk

    Call me naive, but I am now making the conscious choice to believe the A5 has been postponed rather than cancelled.

    It, or something similar to it, will one day be built. As Zig70 says its a no-brainer.

  • iluvni

    How much has been wasted on this sop to Sinn Fein so far…£25million?

    This Executive is doing a splendid job in throwing money down the drain. Any chance anyone will ever be held accountable?

  • Cynic2

    Obelisk

    ” the current inbalance of infrastructure between the East and the West ”

    That’s fine. There are lots of vacant houses in Belfast. Be our guest. Move up here.

    If you chose to live in the backside of nowhere why should the rest of us build roads to convenience you?

    The money should go to where it have maximum economic impact for the whole economy not act as a sectarian pork barrel

  • Bungditin

    Hopefully this news will allow Friends of the Earth et al to focus more on opposing the devastating environmental impacts that the proposed A6 route will inflict on the Faughan Valley Special Area of Conservation

  • Cynic2

    Dead or postponed?

  • Alias

    “How much has been wasted on this sop to Sinn Fein so far…£25million?”

    I would think it is more a case of the British government using its stooge party in NI to fund capital extenditure from the taxes extracted from the taxpayers of another sovereign jurisdiction rather than from the taxpayer within the sovereign jurisdiction wherein the road is to be constructed.

    To be so close to hoodwinking the Irish state into donating 400 million of taxpayers’ money to Her Majesty’s Chancellor of the Exchequer is a case of so near and yet so far for the British government. 400 million would return a great profit on all those payments made to Shinner touts.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, will correct you slightly (to back up your case further) but the traffic figures show more traffic going via the A4 to Enniskillen than the A5 to Omagh, yet this road if still forced through 3 villages, without any real plans to upgrade. The A4 upgraded section was needed and justified for safety and traffic reasons, neither of which justified the A5, but I would agree certain sections of the proposals should go ahead, probably on the northern section mainly.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “The fact that you report that you rarely use that roads seems to be borne out by the fact that you fail to understand that the extension of the dual carriageway from Dungannon to the Ballygawley roundabout has been a major boon to people going both to Omagh and Enniskillen and all points before and after them. It has been very far from a waste.”

    Turgon,

    Your so quick to judgment. I said I would rarely go to Derry, because it takes too long. I use the new A4 on a daily basis and usually go on to Omagh. It has been helpful in cutting the time by say 10 minutes at most to go anywhere that one would go to for say 9:00am. The reason for that is that most delays are caused the closer to the destinations. Whilst the traffic on the old ballygawley line was heavy and you were liable to get caught by the odd tractor, the delay was not significant.

    The real point of the new A4 was to considerably cut the time to travel to the Western Towns. It was one part of a bigger project.

    So consider getting to Enniskillen for 9:00 am. The delay is still where it always was – at the clogher valley and then getting into Enniskillen itself. From the Moy, its about a 45 mile journey and still takes around 1 hr 20 minutes. I can get parked in Victoria Square in Belfast from the Moy, quicker than I can get into Enniskillen.

    Omagh is a bit better, mainly due to the bypass. I have found it helpful but still the main delays come when you get closer to Omagh. Around 5 minutes have been cut off the journey.

    Derry is still inaccessible. You have to go through what 4 towns?

    So the real potential of the expenditure will not be realised

  • Lionel Hutz

    I take DR’s point about the safety. The ballygawley line was just frightening.

  • thethoughtfulone

    The further you get away from Belfast, the nicer a place Northern Ireland becomes.

    I just don’t know why anyone from “the west” would look over towards Belfast and feel the slightest bit jealous!

  • Cynic2

    “The further you get away from Belfast, the nicer a place Northern Ireland becomes.”

    Presumably because you don’t have to have a Prod about ye!

    🙂

  • BluesJazz

    The economic ‘hub’ (if it can be so described) of NI is in Greater Belfast. Same in the RoI with Greater Dublin. The Irish ‘west’ really is going to become a Dakota ‘badland’. Human Geography is rational and depopulation of farmland is inevitable. There will be no economic revival in Galway or Enniskillen, or Derry. The tumbleweed is already gathering.
    Even smalltown Ulster or Ireland knows what’s coming down the line. For example, drive through Rathfriland or Newtownhamilton if you want to see future decay. Even Bangor and Ards, hopeless.
    Still, thank goodness for the eurozone, that gives a boost to the upcoming generation… err

  • Galway’s doing quite nicely, thank you. Although it is relatively small, it has a vast economic catchment area. Walking through the centre of town of a Saturday you could be forgiven for thinking the good times were still around. There’s no urban decay to speak of, and the pubs are still full, although restaurants seem to be feeling the pinch.

    Compare that with my occasional trips back home to Portadown…

  • Harry Flashman

    OK I must have been living out East far too long but what exactly is the problem with the A5 that if it is not remedied immediately will be the kiss of death for economic development in western Northern Ireland?

    I was back there in the summer and had the pleasure of taking the bus from Dublin to Derry and was pleasantly surprised by how good the road was. I remember going to Dublin in the ’80s and the journey took the best part of five hours and here I was whooshing along in a nice luxurious bus in under four (Jesus though don’t get me going about the bus terminal in Monaghan, have they renovated that place since the 1930s?).

    Why would anyone want to bypass pretty Sion Mills? Seriously how much extra does that part of the journey add to the time, five minutes, eight minutes?

    Get things in proportion folks, we are living in times of austerity, we are in hock up to and above our eyeballs, the A5 does not feature on anyone’s radar when it comes to investing in the west. We can live without throwing away another half a billion borrowed at punitive interest rates from Frau Merkel on a country road in Tyrone.

  • dwatch

    galloglaigh ” It’s now time for the West to be afforded a fair share of the budget, so that we can all prosper. Belfast is the only part of this island, that ever prospered since the Act of Union 1800″

    There was no motorcars in the 19th century. Roads (especially dual carriage ways) are built to help decrease traffic congestion. The greater Belfast area has nearly half a million population whereas the whole of Co Tyrone may be the largest county in NI, but it is sparsely populated with about approx 166,000 population. The A5 (which was to travel through most of this county) was proposed as one of Sinn Fein’s political bargaining ploys supported by Blair & Ahern who would have sold their granny to get the St Andrew’s agreement signed. Funny it was the ROI who has scuppered this white elephant.

  • I’ll repeat; there are serious safety concerns which need to be addressed.
    Coming from the area Harry, I probably wouldn’t use a Sion Mills bypass, for personal reasons, (I love the village) but time is very important to some. They are spending billions on a new hollow core optical cable across the Atlantic to save a few milliseconds (microseconds?) between the time a financial trade is ordered in England and the order being executed in NY and vice versa.

  • thethoughtfulone

    “Presumably because you don’t have to have a Prod about ye!”

    Nah, it’s the lack of townies,

    ………………………..of any persuasion!

  • AGlassOfHine

    bj….

    Ards and Bangor ?
    Ards has just opened the largest Tesco Super Store this side of the Pecos,and Bangor is putting up new buildings,(Sainsbury’s to name but one),quicker than Euro Zone Countries are collapsing in on themselves.

    The Wild West will have to wait a little longer for the Eastern Civilisation to reach them.

  • IJP

    The most frustrating thing about this is that it was obvious from the moment FG/Labour came to power.

    Varadkar then confirmed postponement of all projects not all ready in progress in the Republic. Why would he make an exception for Derry-Aughnacloy?

    I’m not as negative about the case for the HQDC as some on here: I accept that traffic levels are relatively low but the whole point was to increase them! That said, the case for the A2 at Greenisland and probably also the A6 Randalstown-Castledawson was much more clear cut – in other words, it’s not that the A5 shouldn’t be built to expressway standard, but rather that it should always have waited its turn.

    What frustrates me is that politicians were not honest about the inevitable postponement-cum-cancellation, and the media were unable to draw it out sooner. I just hope no construction jobs were truly dependent on this.

  • galloglaigh

    AGlassOfHine

    Such a stereotypical unionist point of view. You should reinvent your own magazine. You could call it AGlassOfPunch!

  • galloglaigh,

    How the hell did you find that cartoon?

  • galloglaigh

    Joe

    It’s something I’m studying at the minute. The Highland and Irish Famine, British government relief policy and stereotypes. Quite an interesting topic. Type punch Magazine into google…

  • Looka like the A5 upgrade is in some trouble. ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21850668 ) Following is a comment I made some time ago. I don’t believe a complete regrading is necessary but that there are some dangerous places and bottlenecks that should be addressed:
    joeCanuck (profile)
    9 November 2011 at 7:11 pm

    There are important safety upgrades needed on the A5 (e.g. the 90 degree bend at Bready (scene of many accidents over the years). These should go ahead, and so should a Sion Mills bypass with funds that are available. These could be situated to fit in with the proposed route of the new road if it ever goes ahead.