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Road Safety and Rural Planning top Ministerial meeting agenda

30 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that tackling the infrastructure deficit, road safety and rural planning will be at the top of the agenda when a party delegation meet with new British direct rule Regional Development Minister David Cairns today, at Department for Regional Development Head Offices, Clarence Court, Belfast.

Sinn Féin will demand an all Ireland Ministerial summit to establish one integrated body to examine and deal with Road Safety across the island.

The delegation will also include West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy Advisor Damien McGennity and Sinn Féin Assembly Political Advisor, Joe Doherty.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Ms Gildernew said:

"Direct rule is failing us. Everyone, apart from the DUP, can see that we urgently need locally accountable Ministers in charge.

"This is a first opportunity to outline, to yet another new direct rule minister with little local understanding, a number of issues that need to be given priority. These include:

· The transport needs of the Border Corridor Region;
· Regional disparity;
· The consequences of the privatisation agenda and Water Reform;
· The impact that the controversial Rural Planning PPS 14 holds for rural

"Given the mounting death toll on our roads there is also a need for a stronger approach to the issue road safety.  We need immediate action on tackling road safety, with an all Ireland Ministerial summit to establish one integrated body to examine and deal with Road Safety across the island.

Barry McElduff commenting on the meeting added::

"Earlier in the year Sinn Féin met with senior Transport officials in Dublin. Despite many policy commitments on areas of co-operation,
particularly on transport, no serious effort is being made to address the infrastructure deficit.

"The Regional Development Strategy and Transport 21 continue to drive Belfast and Dublin centric development. This must be challenged. Balanced regional development can only take place with a long-term capital works programme to afford equality to rural as well urban transport provision.

"The Six County £16 Billion Investment Strategy must deliver a transport system that addresses the transport deficit that affects the North West of Ireland. Likewise, Transport 21 will not deliver the much needed inter urban highway to service the needs of the North West. We need to see the much lauded North West Gateway Initiative take shape." ENDS

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