Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank Deputy Breathnach for outlining the merits of advancing cross-Border infrastructure. The Minister will have heard me voice many times in this Chamber, and in meetings I have had with him, my concerns on the inadequate infrastructure in the Border region. That inadequacy will exacerbate problems we have and the economic challenges that will arise on foot of Brexit.
A decision was made by the then Fianna Fáil Government - in the aftermath of signing the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrew's Agreement - that the State would provide substantial funding towards the upgrade of the A5 in Northern Ireland. This project is particularly important to the north-west of the country, including County Donegal. The Minister will have heard our colleagues, DeputiesGallagher and McConalogue, speak eloquently about the need to advance that project. I am also concerned about the N2 part of that route. The Minister is aware of the ongoing public consultation process in respect of upgrading the part of the route from Clontibret to the Border and the part from Ardee to Castleblayney. It is very important that the views of the local communities are fully taken into account in deciding on the preferred route. I am very anxious for a commitment to be given to ensure that the N2 and the A5 projects will be progressed as quickly as possible. The delay on the A5 has not been on our side of the Border; it has been due to political difficulties in Northern Ireland and to a number of planning issues. We must look at our economy now as an all-Ireland economy. If the infrastructure in Northern Ireland is deficient, it is a deficit for our economy in the South. Similarly, if our infrastructure is deficient on the southern side of the Border it will be a negative for the economy north of the Border. We must look now to our economy in an all-Ireland context. We must also look to the provision and upgrading of infrastructure on an all-Ireland basis. I appeal to the Minister to send out a message that funding will be provided to ensure that there will be no undue delays in progressing the upgrade of the N2, which is critical for County Monaghan, and the A5 project, which is so important for Tyrone, Derry and Donegal.