Northern Ireland

Hopes rise that £400m pledge by Dublin towards A5 upgrade will be restored

The Irish government had initially promised £400m towards road upgrade before dropping dum to £75m

The long-awaited A5 Western Transport Corridor project could finally get underway next year.
The long-awaited A5 Western Transport Corridor project is expected to cost up to £1.6bn

Speculation is mounting that the Irish government will restore its pledge to provide £400m to build the new A5 road.

It has been reported that the sum, which was initially promised by the Republic for the A5 Western Corridor before being cut back in 2011, will be restored following a cabinet meeting in Dublin on Tuesday.

The funding pledge from Dublin has stood at £75m, but last week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his governmen was prepared to make a “revised financial commitment” to the long-awaited project.

BBC NI reported the funding was to be restored ahead of a meeting on Tuesday between Dublin’s finance minister Michael McGrath and his Stormont counterpart Caoimhe Archibald in Belfast.

Mr McGrath said the meeting “provides an excellent opportunity to discuss our shared economic interests, the all-island economy and the shared opportunities and challenges we face”.

The A5 is part of the main route between Dublin and the north west, but the stretch between Derry and Aughancloy has claimed the lives of over 50 people since a dual carriageway upgrade was first announced by the Assembly back in 2007.

The deaths have led to the A5 being dubbed one of the most dangerous roads in Ireland.

A public inquiry into the project, which is now estimated to cost up to £1.6bn, concluded last year.

Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has said it is engaging with contractors to “ensure a readiness for construction” this year upon the publishing of the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) report into the upgrade.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, Mr McGrath said: “Recent years have brought great uncertainty and challenge in both political and economic terms, but we now have an opportunity - with the Executive restored and greater certainty around key issues such as post-Brexit trade - to maximise the potential of the economic relationships on this island,”

Irish Finance Minister Michael McGrath insisted the situation in Ukraine was ‘fundamentally different’ (Niall Carson/PA)
The Republic's finance minister Michael McGrath. PICTURE: NIALL CARSON/PA

“There has always been the potential to further develop cross-border trade and recent years have shown what can be achieved - at the start of this decade total trade in goods and services amounted to under five billion euro, while in 2022 this rose to 11.6 billion euro, involving a 15% increase over 2021.”

He added: “Peace and prosperity remain at the core of our work, and while the focus of my meeting will be on our work for shared prosperity - including in the context of the Shared Island Initiative - I will also take time to visit some projects supported by the Government’s Reconciliation Fund devoted to ongoing reconciliation and community work.”