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DRD document repeats mistakes of past

4 November, 2004

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Catríona Ruane has accused the Department of Regional Development of repeating the mistakes of past unionist controlled administrations following the publication of its strategic roads plan made the accusation when she criticised the.

Criticising proposed Regional Strategic Transport Network Plan as being partitionist in approach and of failing to appreciate the need for All-Ireland thinking Ms Ruane said:

"Reminiscent of the blinkered policies of the old Stormont, in this consultation paper all roads in South Down lead to Belfast.

"Clearly there is a need for enhanced connections to Belfast. Ballynahinch is crying out for a by-pass; and sections of the road between Downpatrick and Belfast are a disgrace. It is wrong to extrapolate from this that there is no need for greatly improved connections to Newry and the Belfast-Dublin economic corridor.

"The Dublin-Belfast corridor opens a customer base of more than two million people. Businesses small and large in South Down must be able to optimise their ability to tap into this market. That can only be done if the proper transport infrastructure is developed. DRD does a disservice to the people of South Down by not taking cognisance of the opportunities the Dublin-Belfast corridor presents.

"There is a glaring need to focus on improved connections across South Down, linking the east of the County to Newry.

"Sinn Fein believe that DRD need to urgently re-assess the strategic plan and to upgrade the status of the road between Downpatrick and Newry, upgrading it into a link corridor with the appropriate investment in its improvement.

"This needs to be coupled with a vigorous approach to the proposals to build a bridge across Narrow Water. It is an indictment on those charged with the development of our road network no serious effort has been made to attract European funding to build a bridge across Narrow Water.

"Sinn Fein calls for urgent action to correct this. Winning support for this project should be prioritised forthwith." ENDS

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