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Sinn Féin launch campaign for "Division One" road and rail infrastructure for NorthWest and Border Counties

8 May, 2006

Sinn Féin is demanding "Division One" road and rail infrastructure for the northwest and border counties including a motorway/high quality dual carriageway for the N14/A5/N2 main arterial route to Dublin.

The demand was spelt out today at a major press conference at Kelly's Inn, Garvaghy (on the A5 road between Omagh and Ballygawley), which was attended by MPs, TDs, MLA's, Council Chairs and councillors stretching from Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Louth right through to Meath.

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty who launched the party campaign leaflet on the issue at the event said:

"By 2015, and through Transport 21 in the 26 counties and the Regional Development Strategy in the six counties, there will be motorway/high quality dual carriageway infrastructure serving the main arterial routes:

· From Dublin to Wexford and Waterford in the Southeast,

· From Dublin to Cork and Limerick in the South West

· From Dublin to Galway in the West

· From Dublin and Belfast.

"Yet Derry, the 4th largest city on the island, along with all the other communities in the northwest and border counties, are being expected to continue to navigate the "Rocky Road to Dublin".

"The communities in the northwest and border counties should not be expected to settle for anything less, in terms of road infrastructure, than communities in all other regions of the country.

"Instead of perpetuating the historical layers of structural inequality that the northwest and border counties have had to contend with as a result of neglect, discrimination and partitionist planning, those in power must be forced to redress it.

"The northwest and border counties cannot be the left as the only region of Ireland left without a strategic transport corridor brought up to motorway/high quality dual carriageway standard. The economic implications of such a scenario would be devastating. How could this region be expected to compete in economic terms with all other regions of the country having "Division One Transport Infrastructure.

"Just as there is a need to redress the "singular" absence of a rail network from this part of Ireland (and Sinn Féin published its proposals on a north west rail link in the year 2000) a motorway or high quality dual carriageway is an essential pre-requisite to equitable socio-economic development on the island.

Addressing the Press Conference, Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin pointed up the need for a fully integrated all-Ireland approach to infrastructure development saying,

"The continuing failure of both governments to pursue a truly joined up approach to transport infrastructure planning is a key factor in why the massive infrastructure deficit in the north west and border counties has failed to be addressed

"Sinn Féin is committed to developing an Ireland of Equals, but for this to happen there must be equality of opportunity for people in every region of the island.

"However, the reality in today's Ireland is that it is the North West and border counties, the areas of greatest socio-economic need, that have benefited least in terms of EU structural funding for infrastructure.

Speaking from a West of the Bann perspective, Lynn Flemming, the Mayor of Derry said,

"There will be those who will contend that improvements have been made and are continuing to be made to the A5 route to Dublin, however, there has been no uniformity in these improvements, they are piecemeal, consisting mainly of road widening and town by-pass schemes and still covering only a minority of the route.

"If anything they are just now bringing these roads up to a standard that was promised 40 years ago. The problem is that road traffic has multiplied 40 fold in the intervening period.

"As we gather here today to launch this campaign for a route of motorway/Dual Carriageway standard and the re-installment of a rail network to the region we are demanding that this historical legacy now be addressed. And we are determined that we will not have to wait 40 years to see these essential developments.

Donegal County Councillor Pearse Doherty said,

"A motorway/Dual Carriageway to the Northwest will bring major benefits not only to the northwest, but also to all the counties and communities along it route. Furthermore it will cost less than 3% of what is to be spent by both governments on infrastructure on this island over the next 10 years.

"On a final point and I am conscious in making it, the number of fatalities on our roads each year and in particular in my own county of Donegal. A motorway/dual carriageway apart from all the other associated benefits will also provide to the northwest and the border counties a significant safety dividend. It is accepted that it could reduce the number of accidents on the N14/A5/N2 by up to 65%.

"So the results of a successful campaign will not only deliver key necessary infrastructure to the northwest, will not only boost the local economy and assist in tackling the spiralling job losses, will not only reverse the trend of neglect and indifference but will also provide safer road for our communities.

Concluding, Pat Doherty MP said,

"In launching this campaign leaflet here today in which the demand for Division One Road and Rail Infrastructure is laid out, we must fully utilize our political strength across to mobilise, build alliances and secure a level of support for this demand that those in power will have to listen to-no matter how reluctant they may be to do so." ENDS

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