Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has welcomed the announcement that work is to begin on the first phase of the A5 upgrade, from Newbuildings to Strabane.
Ibec North West Regional Director Terry MacNamara stated: “The advancement of the A5 is of great strategic importance to the North West. Infrastructure is the backbone of everyday life, underpinning all economic activity. The upgrade of the A5 will be a vital boost to the North West's economy and a crucial step forward in connecting the North West to Dublin. Ibec has actively lobbied for ambitious proposals to upgrade the all-island transport network. The A5 is a crucial artery of this network and is currently unfit for purpose.
“Land purchases are also set to begin in early 2018 for the new Lifford to Letterkenny N14 road. The road will connect to the new A5. This is a welcome development as improved cross border connectivity will support economic growth, help create jobs and promote investment in the North West. It is vital for the continued economic recovery of the region.
“It is essential that funding is now agreed for the remaining two phases of the A5 upgrade as well as the upgrade of the A6. Enhanced connectivity is particularly important given current uncertainties and challenges created by Brexit.
“Ibec North West has raised serious concerns for the future growth of the region and calls on Government to address the long-standing issue of lack of prioritisation of the region in the soon to be finalised National Planning Framework (NPF) and National Investment Plan (NIP). Investment in the N4 Sligo-Dublin and the Atlantic corridor routes are vital in countering the challenges of peripherality and perceived remoteness of the North West.
“The NPF must prioritise the two regional urban centres of Sligo and Letterkenny-Derry. Channelling growth to these two important urban centres would support targeted population growth and help achieve wider regional and national planning objectives.
“The task now is to ensure the North West region is not deprived but instead is given an opportunity to capitalise on the many advantages it has to offer as a place to live, do business, create jobs and invest. The NPF and the NIP will both be central to this”.