Martin McGuinness will not sign off on the next Programme of Government, unless…

So, yesterday the deputy First Minister was giving it large on the critical position of the enlargement of the A5, such that if it wasn’t approved then he would not be passing a new programme of government after the next Assembly elections.

[Aha, is it them pesky Unionist holding slightly inner west Ulster to ransom again? – Ed]. Nope. In fact Martin himself is well appraised of the potential roadblocks from this written answer from Paschal Donohoe his colleague, the Deputy for Cavan Monaghan recently received:

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information Paschal Donohoe: the current position regarding the plans to develop the N2-A5 road into a dual carriageway from south of Monaghan town, and serving counties Tyrone, Derry and Donegal; the reasons for the project being postponed; his plans to progress this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33158/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Implementation of the A5 upgrade project is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland authorities.

The quashing by the High Court in 2013 of the Minister for Regional Development’s approval for the construction of two sections of the road has resulted in significant delay. Since the High Court decision the Northern Ireland authorities have been working on the additional evaluations needed in relation to the project.

The Department for Regional Development has completed public consultation exercises on four reports intended to address impacts on all areas with Environmental designations, including Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites, together with proposed mitigation measures.

Work on the new draft Statutory Orders and new Environmental Statement is complete and, when published, will be subject to public consultation which may lead to a further Public Inquiry.

The Government remains supportive of the project. The timeframe for the project is dependent on planning issues which are currently being addressed by the Northern authorities. Once the planning, timing and costs related to the project are settled, consideration will be given to the funding implications. [Emphasis added]

Costs, hmmmm… So who’s paying for those costs then? Shut a few more schools, let the hospital waiting times go a little bit further? I guess if he can come up with the cash, and then get it past the High Court, and then get the new Irish government to sign it off, Martin will be free to sign off on a new Programme of Government?

All this, and hardly a grumpy unionist anywhere to be seen…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty