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Funding for NI infrastructure should come from UK, not Dublin – Donaldson – Homepage – Waterford News & Star

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By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Irish Government support for cross-border projects is welcome, but funding for Northern Ireland public services and infrastructure should come from the UK government, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

The Irish Government has announced €800 million for funding projects benefiting Northern Ireland, including €50 million for the redevelopment of Casement Park GAA stadium in west Belfast and €600 million towards the proposed upgrade of the A5 road.

Stormont’s Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said he would now be working with his officials with a “clear intention” of delivering the A5 project.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the A5 announcement was the restoration of a previous promise from the Government. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA.

Sir Jeffrey said the A5 announcement was the restoration of a promise the Government had first made in June 2007.

He said: “Whilst the overall cost of this cross-border project has significantly increased over the years we welcome the decision taken by the Irish Government to restore their funding commitment.”

 

The DUP leader added: “Whilst we welcome support from the Irish Government for genuine cross-border projects that demonstrate mutual benefit to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it is not the job or the responsibility of the Republic’s Government to provide financial support for the provision of public services and general Northern Ireland infrastructure.

“That is a matter for the UK Government and must be done so in accordance with our needs base as set out in evidence provided to the UK Government.”

He added that the Irish Government support for the Casement Park “does not deal with the substantive funding gap that exists as a result of the massive increase in costs over the period”.

Sir Jeffrey said: “It is right that the GAA receives its allocation from the Northern Ireland Executive as previously agreed and in line with the allocations to the three supporting bodies but we cannot see how significant additional UK taxpayer resources will be available at a time when other vital public services are in need of additional resource and capital allocations.

“It will be for the UK Government to clarify its position in the coming period.”

Brexit
Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said there was a willingness to carry out the A5 upgrade. Photo: Niall Carson/PA.

Mr O’Dowd said the Dublin support for the A5 scheme confirms “that the willingness is there to help get this road built”.

He said: “Too many lives have been cut short or forever changed by serious injury as a result of road traffic collisions on the A5 and too many families are living with the devastating consequences.

“I have met with grieving families and witnessed their heartache at first hand, which is why getting shovels on the ground is a priority for me.

“Now that we have confirmation that funding is available from the Dublin government, I will work with my officials regarding the Planning Appeals Commission Advisory Report recommendations with a clear intention of delivering this long-awaited project.”

The minister appealed for those who were behind legal challenges to the project to set them aside.

Stormont Assembly
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood welcomed the funding announcement from Dublin. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/PA.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the Irish funding announcement would “supercharge” projects which had been talked about for years.

He said: “The commitment to the A5 is substantial and is higher than previously reported, underscoring the urgent need to get this road built.

“I also welcome the financial commitment to Casement Park, this will be a transformative project for West Belfast and for Ulster GAA, stimulating investment in a community that deserves it.

“It is time to put narrow politics aside and get behind redeveloping this site.”

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