The West wants in: Why are roads so poor West of the Bann?

When I was completing my review of the News Letter during the 1960s and 70s, I remember reading countless complaints from politicians like Harry West about the poor state of the roads in the west of Northern Ireland. We did have the building of the M1 in the 1960s which promised a new era of connectivity for the west with the rest of the province. We know the problems about the motorway stopping at Dungannon in Co.Tyrone. However, the building of the M1 coincided with the Unionist governments decision to close a huge portion of our railway network in that part of the province.

Fast forward to today and we are still having the same debates about the west being short changed in terms of infrastructure. It is easy to blame this on a Belfast mindset, but of the four Regional Development Ministers we have had since 1999, three of them have come from outside of the greater Belfast area.

Question for the Sluggerverse; why can we not solve this problem?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and our friends over on the investigative website, The Detail have done up this picture is illustrates the problem

West of the Bann

  • barnshee

    What part of

    “costs exceed revenues -it had been going on for years historically”

    Is unclear

  • barnshee

    AS you say “. For the most part GB adopted the system of having private enterprise finance the building of railways”

    All railway in the British isles were originally constructed as investments—return on capital ruled-

    They never paid in Ireland they only survive via state subsidy

    Can`t blame the brits

  • AndyB

    Because they would have gone bust far sooner.

  • John Collins

    We have unemployed people too and they often have large families and the European grants were there for you people if you applied properly as well. And for all our faults we pay OAPs 40£ sterling a week more than NI does. Your excuses really are pathetic and all the old talk of how much better it is to be under the Crown. Furthermore Derry is the only city of comparable size on the island without a University, a proper airport or a motorway into it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I appreciate some of your points, I truly do.

    I personally would like to see Derry have better transport links, including the rail line to Sligo.

    I also think that there should be more cross border co-operation wrt to railway (and other things) too, Derry as you probably know was quite the railway hub back in the day, it could only benefit the city if there was some sort of railway renaissance.

    With regards to your maps though, IF you were a politician back in the day would you really have chosen x amount of places west of the Bann to keep the railway alive or build motorways?

    Now, I’d love to have the old railway line back (but they’ve built houses on a lot of the old line in my area).

    But, a lot of the west of the Bann is very rural and indeed rugged.
    I understand your points about unionist underinvestment but if unionists were so self serving then why was Fermanagh not the beneficiary of maintained railway infrastructure or motorways?

    If popular opinion is to be believed then it was only part of NI due to the Fermanagh Mafia contingent of the big house unionism.

    Presumably the Coles and the Brookes et al owned most business anyway.
    Infrastructure would have been in their interests too, in fact they would have been the chief beneficiaries e.g. increased trade, inflated rates for land sales to government projects.

    But still Fermanagh was neglected in this capacity.

    This to me indicates that there was some logical element (though I loathe to use the word logical) to the thinking behind infrastructure.

    If NI was the unionist plaything that we are lead to believe then the Shankill slums would have been demolished decades ago and Fermanagh would have a bullet train to Stormont.

    Yes, Stormont I was guilty of many things but refusing to put a motorway or railway line through the Sperrins was hardly one of the crimes in question.
    The question now, as Dr McC says is how do we solve this problem?

    I vote for a combination of demand, terrain and cost.

    If this leads the road through mainly unionist areas, then so be it.

    If it leads the roads through mainly nationalist areas, then so be it, it’s time for pragmatism.

  • barnshee

    ” we pay OAPs 40£ sterling a week more than NI does. Your excuses really are pathetic and all the old talk of how much better it is to be under the Crown. Furthermore Derry is the only city of comparable size on the island without a University, a proper airport or a motorway into it.”

    1 Happy that you are funding your OAPS with British and German money ( your claim of £40 more fails to take note of Pension credit in the UK which will increase the basic pension by £25- £65 a week before other support is factored in)

    2 Derry has always had a University Campus First of TCD now of UU
    3 It has (at great public expense) an Airport at Eglinton

    PS Facts are not excuses

  • Richard Gadsden

    Here’s a costing: £5million. To design the line.

    Seriously, if you want engineering drawings, that’s a minimum costing.

    And I’m quite sure that it wouldn’t happen. Almost entirely for cost reasons.

  • mickfealty

    Niall, this east west bias is replicated south of the border where road, energy and broadband infrastructure similarly runs out. Singular lack of attention on the matter by a political class that don’t seem to understand the matter seems to be the common link. Cartoon via

  • mickfealty

    In case you miss it below Simian… (

  • doopa

    I looked at the top ten biggest settlements in NI and built three models to predict whether or not they would be served by a motorway.
    Model 1:Based on pop density
    Model 3: based on proportion of total population
    Model 2: Based on % Catholics

    Accuracy of the models:
    Model 1: 40%
    Model 3: 60%
    Model 2: 70%

    I.e. the model most likely to correctly predict motorway distribution in NI was the ‘sectarian’ model.given the xkcd ref I will improve my initial statement. Motorway distribution in NI is best modelled by assuming that it is distributed to cities in NI proportionate to the religious preference of its inhabitants.
    Your right correlation and causation are not the same, however, the theory that best fits the data is the sectarian model.

  • John Collins

    Not really Mick. There is a motorway from Limerick to Galway and a dual carriage from Limerick to Cork should be completed in the next few years. There is also a dual carriage way from Waterford to Cork and Dublin is connected to Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Gorey, Galway and Belfast via motorway.

  • John Collins

    Oh yes you can. Ireland was an integral part of GB since 1801. When Morpeth and Bentwick made their pleas among other things they pointed that it was in GBs long term interest to follow Belgiums example and in the case of Ireland aid future economic growth on this island, by putting state investment into creating railway infrastructure here. They failed to respond to the bold proposals of there imaginative fellow countrymen.
    Meanwhile the British Government poured huge sums of money into developing railways in India and Australia outposts which were only colonies

  • barnshee

    Portrush and Portstewart are both east of the Bann
    That the railway missed Portstewart centre is a blessing The yobs stay on the train and vomit in Portrush

  • John Collins

    Any money we receive from Europe was either agreed at entry to the Union or has been received in the form of repayable loans. As William Hague said at the time of the Royal visit it was in GBs interest to have a healthy economy in the ROI so any money they loaned to Ireland was basically done in GBs self interest. He pointed that the ROI was the fourth highest purchaser of GB exports and we were the fifth highest importer of goods into GB. BTW we pay our debts not like your friends those lovely Germans who had colossal debts written off in the 1950s and a huge infusion of foreign money via the Marshall Plan and cash grants from several European countries including the ROI.
    As regards your argument about Universities McGee College, it is simply a part of a University with about 6,000 students. Limerick, a city with a similar population to Derry, has a stand alone University with no less than 17,000 student.
    As regards your Airport FFS it has about 8 outward flights a week all conducted by Ryanair. Perhaps you should look at the list of flights to and from Shannon Airport which is located a few miles from the aforementioned city of Limerick. I rest my case

  • mickfealty

    Road to Galway IS impressive. The one to Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon and Donegal less so.

  • John Collins

    Well I agree but we intend to continue to improve our network where as there seems to be huge resistance in NI to building a motorway to the second city

  • John Collins

    Well AM I absolutely agree with you that there should be much more cooperation across the border in areas like promotion of tourism, health care provision, agriculture, joint trade delegations and a demand for a common corporation tax etc. This could promote more understanding and trust among those from both sides of the divide.

  • John Collins

    How come Limerick, a city with a population almost exactly the same as Derry , can have an International Airport, motorways leading to Galway and Dublin and another on the pipeline to Cork? It also has a full blown University with over 17,000 Students, where Derry has only McGee College, a branch of a full University, that has only about 6,000 students

  • mickfealty

    Look to the mishandling of budgets for the answer to that. Our political leaders currently have the foresight of goldfish.

  • barnshee

    Return on capital ruled in the “colonies”

  • barnshee

    Its MAGEE

    If the Airport in Derry had more use it would have more flights

    If you can arrange for Derry to have the same USA immigration service as Shannon I sure traffic can be increased

    “in GBs interest to have a healthy economy in the ROI”

    To prevent the massive immigration from Ireland that occurred in the past

    Not talking about loans– more the EC funds provided by the EC paymaster Germany and England

  • Reader

    Model 4: Distance from Falls Road, Belfast
    How does that one fit?

  • doopa


  • Reader

    Interesting – what are your 10 settlements?

  • John Collins

    You can ‘Magee’ all you like Derry is not a University city. If Magee was ever a proper University there would have been no complaints that when Derry was passed over and Colerain got its University
    William Hague never mentioned emigration and I am sure GB are quite glad to have our fine health care and construction workers over the decades not to mention about one third of their army , mostly Catholics as Wellington pointed out, when they handed Napolean his butt on a plate. At that time one on three in the army were Irish and less that one in six in the House of Commons. Your argument about emigration is flawed anyway because all that money that was poured into Germany after WW2 was hardly based on a fear that Germans would emigrate all over the place. I think I should remind you that GB benefited from the monies paid out in the Marshall Plan
    As regards USA investment in Shannon, GB always claims to have a special relationship with the US. How come they allowed those silly Southerners to wipe their eye and get Uncle Sam to spread his dosh on Shannon side. I can tell you why. The fact is your GB Government don’t give a fig about peripheral regions in the mainland, never mind a city in a backwoods. like the West of NI. This is borne out by the fact that at the time of the Act of Union there was 15 million people in the Mainland and 5 million in all Ireland. By 1900 there 3.2 million in Ireland and 38 million in mainland Britain. So being in an Act of Union with GB did not do an awful for us did it
    Meanwhile, I have seen some websites in relation to GBs National Debt and they make absolutely alarming reading. Apparently your National debt is rising by over £5,300 a second and every taxpayer in the land owes an average of over £53,000 a head. If I were You I would worry about the state of GBs economy as well. In fairness we all should if this is as bad as it most certainly looks.

  • doopa

    On mobile – but list of localities in NI by population on Wikipedia. I took Castlereagh into Belfast. Therefore Carrick Fergus is the 10th settlement even if it is number 11 on that list.

  • Reader

    OK, I looked at the list and I think I can deal with this, and will do so when there is a bit more blood in the alcohol stream. However, separately, this is the first time I have seen a nationalist include Castlereagh in Belfast.

  • doopa

    I’m not sure how you can ‘deal’ with this! I’ve taken the list from here:

    And it includes this proviso under Castlereagh.
    “(includes Dundonald and part of Belfast)”. That is why I took Castlereagh into the Belfast numbers. If it was up to me I wouldn’t count Lisburn as a separate city!

    Not sure why you assume I’m a nationalist :/ ?