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…

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  • hugh mccloy

    yeah, as if anything is going to happen until after the next election, this is a quick look over there go from Marty. What would he be drawing attention away from ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yes agree Mick, I was also surprised by Martin’s short outburst , it was as if he had not done his homework correctly on the subject, which is not like him !

  • Jack fotheringham

    Nothing that wasn’t already in the public domain already.
    The A5 is an executive project so will certainly be progressing, and with the already pledged financial support from the Republic.
    The only thing holding up the A5 is Danny Kennedy’s stallling on publishing the draft orders, but sure he wouldn’t cut off his nose to spite his face, would he?

  • hugh mccloy

    Money for it or not, there is still the legal case to put the spanner in the works which will be mounted again no doubt.

  • Dan

    So, no programme for government will be agreed after the next set of elections.
    That makes the whole thing pointless. Are we to stumble on again year after year, helped to ransom by Sinn Fein?

    Close it down without further ado.

  • 23×7

    It’s tiresome that you believe there must be a trade off between this essential piece of infrastructure investment and investment in schools or hospitals.

  • chrisjones2

    If that is Martin’s line then its simple. He can collect his P45 at Halloween alongside the rest of them. It is said that there is equality in death ….perhaps the same goes for old redundant politicians

  • chrisjones2

    …essential for whom though? Health and the upgrade of the Belfast Derry road would be much more cost effective

  • chrisjones2

    “and with the already pledged financial support from the Republic” … which seems pledged with a rubber band that bounces it back and forth

  • Daragh

    Mick you appear to be unaware that the Ulster Unionists in their manifesto for the Assembley elections in 2011 promised to stop the development of the A5 and divert funds into other projects. Can you guess what happened when Danny Kennedy became the minister?

    The A5 Alliance subsequently found a technical matter to successfully object to the development of the project, in that although an environmental impact assessment was completed for the development of the A5 it wasn’t done if you were only building stretches of the road at a time rather than the full road. Nice technicality I’m sure you will agree. Meantime guess what happened the funds set aside for the A5?

    Now I am sure there was no one in the department who would have had a motivation to tip off the A5 Alliance, is there Ed? Oh right the manifesto – bound to be embarrassing though…..

    Not really the minister came to Derry and brass necked it saying how much work he was doing to rectify the situation and absolutely no one in the room believed him.

    On the flipside at least the Ulster Unionist party were able to celebrate with cocktails back at Party HQ that they delivered on at least one part of their manifesto – no mean feat for any party in this shambolic state.

    But then again it involved investment West of the Bann which, let’s face it, has never been in fashion.

  • 23×7

    It’s pretty obvious that improving links to between the north west and the largest city and most successful industrial region on this island is a no brainer. How you think improving the link between two economic basket cases would be more cost effective (whatever that means) is mystifying.

  • OneNI

    Marty knows the situation as well as anyone. This is pathetic electioneering. Calls for something he thinks nationalist voters and construction workers want.
    He knows:
    1. The project is completely sub economic. There are many other better transport investment that are a bigger priority.
    2. He knows that even if the money was available – which it isnt north or south – it is an impossiblity for work to start in 2016 Wesley Johnston the roads expert reckons 2017 is the earliest possible date

    His remarks also give the lie to his pretension that he wants to “protect the vulnerable”. Taking money from health to build roads aint protecting the vulnerable.

    Finally its an empty threat. If the other parties dont agree to give him the A5 there will be no Programme for Govt. Then what? Oh yeah Direct Rule Ministers – who sure as hell wouldnt countenance the A5 nonsense

  • Old Mortality

    Indeed. Taking it out of social security instead would be so much better and I’m sure McGuinness thinks so too.

  • 23×7

    It’s a scandal. Local MP looking to improve opportunities for his constituents. The A5 will be built as the economic and safety benefits are obvious.

  • chrisjones2

    If you don’t understand the basic principles of cost effectiveness its hard to see how you assess the benefit of a road from Dublin to a basket case. But of course you do and are following the SF agenda of trying to pretend we are half way to a United Ireland when the truth is we are as far away as ever

  • chrisjones2

    Yea and exposes that this is not a fight over high minded principle – its a pork barrel / horse trading session So when SF concede on welfare, residents of west Belfast can be assuage the knowledge they are stuffed with the understqanding that the residents of Derry will do alright

  • hugh mccloy

    He is only a MLA not an MP, and his constituency is not even in the A5 area, shame he was not as worried about issues in mid ulster where he sits, or is he too worried about issues in derry where he lives ?

  • 23×7

    Ha ha good try and a nice bit of pedantry to boot. I forgot that the new road will only benefit the constituencies it goes through. Mid Ulster is much too far way to benefit.

  • 23×7

    The fact that you view an essential infrastructure improvement that will benefit everyone in the north west as a nationalist v unionist issue is quite frankly pathetic.

  • Zeno

    I think Mc Guinness has just done that by flagging it as a victory for SF if it goes through.

  • hugh mccloy

    Desertcreat, 2 hospitals all but gone, by passes half built and badly planned, brunt of initial school closures…. yeah I seen how much of a fight he put up in Mid Ulster.

    And don’t blame me for you not knowing he is not an MP, educate yourself.

  • 23×7

    Big deal. He can spin it as he wishes. Still doesn’t change the fact that this is an essential infrastructure investment unless you think we are all gonna stop using cars.

  • 23×7

    With that grammar I reckon it’s you that should look at some education. Nice attempt at trying to change the topic to health. Hospital provision will be less of an issue if the roads are improved.

  • Zeno

    I’ve no opinion on the road. I’m not even sure where it is. But by making that statement He has put it up to the Unionists who will do everything they can to block it That’s how it works round here.

  • hugh mccloy

    The moment when you realise you lost an argument so start correcting grammar, I bet you have a few of those.

    So where is the new road they were supposed to build before shutting a&e in magherafelt if you think a road will create more space in hospitals ? Let’s ask the former mp should we, he might know something about it even though he said nothing

  • 23×7

    Ah I see you like to see engage in the “look squirrel” type of debate. What happened in Magharefelt is completely irrelevant.

  • hugh mccloy

    Twice in one night, I knew you would not disappoint.

    You brought health into it as advantage, how did that work out for you. Was that a red or grey one shinnerbot?

  • Boglover

    The whole thinking around the A5 upgrade has a flawed foundation; that it is necessary to have a new road, as that is the only way to create a road that will save lives. The costs of doing so were in the order of £10m/km for the new route. Surely more lives would be saved by spending, say, 1/2 the budget on cross-border health services and accepting that more people would be killed on the upgraded existing road? But that wouldn’t have the same appeal to voters would it?
    The original case for the A5 notes that many of the accidents and delays on the A5 are caused by tractors and other slow traffic. If tractors were to be banned from the A5 (and other arterial main roads) there would be a reduction in journey times and accident rates. But that would upset the farmers and that wouldn’t do would it?
    Back to the topic of the article – the A5 is yet another example of macho-politics, where representatives are able to claim they are effective in delivering infrastructure for their voters. As for holding up the PfG, is this another excuse for doing nothing?

  • 23×7

    As I said elsewhere the fact that you view an essential infrastructure improvement as a nationalist v unionist issue is quite frankly pathetic. I am no lover of SF by the way.

  • 23×7

    Safety benefits are only one aspect. There are also the economic benefits triggered by improved infrastructure investments. Also road traffic is inevitably going to increase so this road needs improved sooner or later.

  • hugh mccloy

    The thing is, i have never viewed it as essential, and neither a nationalist or unionist issue.

    Stage 2 for when you are losing an argument make up statements in a hope to distract, will you make it to stage 3 in the one thread ?

  • mickfealty

    Missed this at the time Daragh. Thanks for the extra context. All I’m saying is that it’s not in the gift of any unionist to give this as a concession when it faces so many potential external roadblocks.

    It struck me as being pretty random thing to identify as a deal breaker when we still have no idea of the composition of the next government in Dublin.