Northern Ireland

Dublin urged to commit substantial A5 funding

The scene of the A5 crash last month involving a lorry and a minivan. Three members of the same family died.
The scene of the A5 crash last month involving a lorry and a minivan. Three members of the same family died. The scene of the A5 crash last month involving a lorry and a minivan. Three members of the same family died.

One of the most dangerous roads in Northern Ireland, but also a critical part of the island's infrastructure, should benefit from a huge multi-billion euro budget surplus announced by the Irish government, politicians and campaigners argue.

Dozens of people have died on the A5 from the border at Augnacloy to Derry since an upgrade to a dual carriageway was first approved by the Executive in 2007. It is part of the main route from Dublin to the north west.

Last month saw three members of the same family killed in a collision on the road. Brother and sister Dan McKane and Christine Duffy died alongside their aunt Julia McSorely in a crash involving a minivan and a lorry near Aughnacloy. The trio were all from the wider Strabane area.

The A5 Enough is Enough campaign held a meeting in Omagh on Tuesday evening ahead of next Monday's resumption of the  public inquiry into the development of the road.

It took place as the Irish government met to discuss the estimated budget surplus of €65bn over the next four years. This surplus has led to renewed calls for Dublin to commit to substantial funding for what it describes as a "critical infrastructure project".

Enough is Enough Lives Lost On The A5 Campaign
Enough is Enough Lives Lost On The A5 Campaign Enough is Enough Lives Lost On The A5 Campaign

When the upgrading of the 54 mile route to a dual carriageway was first approved by the Executive, the Irish government pledged half the £800m cost, now estimated at 1.6bn.

West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley said she received commitments from Irish Government officials that Dublin “would not be found wanting” in terms of uplifting the contribution towards the A5.

West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley
West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley

“The A5 is of all island strategic important and it will unlock the economic potential of the North West region,” the Sinn Fein MP said. “If the Irish government are in keeping with their original commitment they should co-fund the A5. 

Roads expert Wesley Johnston said the costs are one of the two main elements holding up the scheme, along with the legal challenges.

"But this issue of costs is being raised at the same time the Irish Government is announcing its huge surplus so it may be in a position to be extremely helpful," Mr Johnston said.

The Department for Infrastructure has a capital allocation of £792m which will allow some transport schemes to progress, including work on the A5.

"Subject to the successful completion of all statutory procedures and environmental assessments and the availability of funding, construction work could commence during 2024," the department said.

SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said the public inquiry, by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC), "needs to be the last hurdle to this vital work".

"We have seen far too many lives lost on the A5, with families left shattered and communities broken, there can be no further delay and I again call on the objectors in the Alternative A5 Alliance to stand aside. 

Dan McKane
Dan McKane Dan McKane

“I would welcome a reiteration of the Irish Government's financial backing for the A5 scheme to go ahead. We all need to work together to do everything within our power to see this upgrade carried out to keep people safe and contribute to the economic regeneration of this area.”

In a statement, Dublin's Department of Transport said: "While acknowledging that the planning and implementation of the A5 upgrade is the responsibility of the authorities in Northern Ireland, the Irish Government remains committed to supporting this crucial infrastructure project."

Julia McSorley, one of three victims of a road crash on the A5 in late April
Julia McSorley, one of three victims of a road crash on the A5 in late April Julia McSorley, one of three victims of a road crash on the A5 in late April

The funding arrangements have changed since the government committed £400m in 2007. Under the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the government committed to providing £75m.

"Department of Transport officials have continued to engage with their counterparts in the Department for Infrastructure on a range of issues, including on the A5. The present funding commitment predates the current suspension of the political institutions," a spokesperson said.


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