Irish government to consider increasing contribution towards the A5 project
THE Irish government is to consider increasing its contribution towards the A5 project as part of a new €100 billion 10-year capital plan.
Construction of the first phase of the massive road project will begin in the new year and create a `Western Transport Corridor' of unbroken dual carriageway from Derry to Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone near the border, linking the north west to the N2 motorway and on to Dublin.
The Irish government originally pledged to commit £400 million towards the overall cost of the project but withdrew its offer in May 2011, a few months later pledging €75m in a series of instalments.
However, at a meeting of the Joint Dáil Committee on The Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who attended in his role as foreign affairs minister, confirmed it will be reviewing the figure.
When asked by West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff if the original figure would be re-instated, Mr Coveney said "senior officials are maintaining a close eye on the proposed A5 project as it proceeds through the planning process".
"The subject's spend profile, including the €75m Irish government commitments, will of course be reviewed in the context of that planning process as it progresses," the minister said.
Mr Coveney said "in the next few months the Irish government will be publishing a 10 year capital plan that will commit approximately €100b to expenditure for the next 10 years for a population growth story of certainly over a million people".
"It will be part of that discussion that I think we recognise the strategic importance of the A5," he said.
"So I'm certainly not in a position to be able to announce today what the Irish government will do in that context, but I'm confident that we will take a very positive view of the A5 in the context of that capital plan.
"But that's a matter for minister Paschal Donohoe to clarify in coming months. But I do recognise the strategic importance of it in terms of linking the north west of the country - in particular Donegal, but also the connectivity along the line and the populations that live along it and the economic corridor that it opens up, quite frankly, in terms of the benefits of the piece of infrastructure."
Mr McElduff said the Irish government's financial commitment is a "crucial issue".
"This was a positive week in the campaign to get the A5 developed," he said.
"Simon Coveney did say that the Irish government will take a positive view to re-instating the £400m. I'm calling on the Irish government to renew that commitment."