Stormont accused of ‘prioritising soundbites over substance’ on A6 Caw to Drumahoe dualling scheme

‘Finance Minister announced an £85.6m allocation for the A6 and Belfast Transport Hub and upon further digging, it became clear the A6 would receive a meagre sum of £6m’ - Mark H Durkan

Drivers were allowed onto the new A6 road between Dungiven and Drumahoe on Thursday morning.
The A6 road between Dungiven and Drumahoe

An assembly spat has developed between MLAs and ministers over funding pledges for the next phase of the A6 project.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has accused the Executive of “prioritising soundbites over substance” in relation to the proposed Caw to Drumahoe Dualling Scheme, in Derry.

The SDLP assembly member’s claims arise from the Public Expenditure Budget 2024-25, published by the Department of Finance on April 25 this year.

In that document, Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald said the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) would be receiving £85.6m for the A6 and the Belfast Transport Hub.

Outlining capital funding allocations at the time, the Sinn Féin minister said: “The Draft Budget allocates £2.1bn of capital funding. While this isn’t sufficient to meet all the demands, it will provide investment in our hospitals, school estate, roads and transport network, as well social housing.

“This includes £181m for Executive flagship projects including the A6, the Mother and Children’s Hospital, the Belfast Transport Hub, the Sub-Regional Stadia programme and Casement Park, as well as a new Learning Development Centre for the Fire and Rescue Service.

“These projects will support the construction industry, unlock economic benefits and make a hugely positive impact on people’s lives here.”

However it has emerged, the Assembly Infrastructure Committee was notified this week the flagship A6 project has been allocated just £6m this financial year.

In addition, answering an Assembly Question from Mr Durkan on May 14 Infrastructure Minister John O’ Dowd said: “There are currently no planned works on the A6 in the 2024-25 financial year, beyond routine maintenance.

“My officials will continue to undertake regular inspections and repair defects in accordance with the department’s policy.”

Mr Durkan said the Executive was modelling “governance by press release”.

He added: “It sadly comes as no surprise that the finance minister recently announced an £85.6m allocation for the A6 and Belfast Transport Hub and upon further digging, it soon became clear that the A6 would receive a meagre sum of £6 million.

“So why the explicit mention and fanfare? The public deserve transparency and truth.

“Essentially, phase two Caw to Drumahoe of the A6 dualling scheme won’t happen this year and my fear is that complications around the remediation of the Mobuoy dump site will kick this can further and further down the road.”

The Departments for Finance and Infrastructure were both approached for comment.