2,000 objections lodged against A5 corridor

2,000 objections lodged against A5 corridor

2,000 objections lodged against A5 corridor

Declan Magee

More than 2,000 objections have been lodged against the A5 western transport corridor which if could reduce the journey time from Donegal to Dublin to under three hours.

The deadline for objections to the scheme passed last week and public inquiries are due to be held later this year on the 85km dual carriageway between Newbuidlings, outside Derry, and Auchnacloy - where it will join up with the N2 to Dublin.

Donegal councillors this week reiterated their support for the project which they say is the most critical ever proposed for the county.

The 844 million (€985m) project is to be funded by the governments on both side of the border as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The projects's future has been called into doubt in recent months after doubts were raised about the ability of the government on this side of the border to fund its contribution, which could be up to 400m (€467m).

Fine Gael and Labour have both committed themselves to funding the scheme after comments by Labour's transport spokesman Joe Costelloe cast doubt on the party's commitment to the scheme.

The Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliot has also called the future of the project into question.

Donegal County Council received a presentation on the project at the January monthly meeting from senior council roads engineer Aidan O'Doherty who gave the council an outline of the timetable of the project which will see public inquiries held in the middle of this year.

Construction of the dual carriageway is due to begin next year with completion expected in 2015.

Councillors at Monday's monthly meeting of the council fully supported the project. The council will now write to leaders and transport spokespersons of all political parties north and south to stress the importance of the project to Donegal.

"We are the only part of the island without a motorway," Mr. Doherty said. "If you drive down to Galway you will see the difference that the new motorway there made.

"It is important that we support this project as numerous groups have formed and are opposing it on both sides of the border."

The project received corss-party support from the council chamber. Cllr. Patrick McGowan said the biggest challenge facing the council is that the project is running through another jurisdiction. "Everyone has been singing from the same hymnsheet," he said.

Cllr. Ian McGarvey said the benefit of the project has to be stressed. Cllr. Padraig MacLochalinn said Donegal has been "utterly shafted" over the years when it comes to infrastructure. "I have no doubt that every political party in the county backs it but I am not convinced that every political party in this country backs it," he said.

Labour Party councillor Frank McBrearty said his party is fully behind the A5 project. The improvement of the N14 and N15 have to be a priority as well, he said. "If I get elected to Dail Eireann I will assure the people of Donegal that all three projects will be a priority for the Labour Party."

Fianna Fil's Ciaran Brogan was critical of the objectors. "When I see the objections that have been made I see why we have had partition in this country for so long. It is narrow-minded, selfish and wrong."

The project was also endorsed by Fine Gael. Cllr. Noel McBride said he was looking forward to seeing the completion date while Cllr. John Boyle said he also endorsed the project.