BOTH governments will spend more than £100M on upgrading parts of the A5 route over the next four years – but it will be a decade before the road is properly upgrade, the North/South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh has agreed.
Administrations in Belfast and Dublin will also explore alternative funding for the project including possible help from Europe.
Our government has set aside – as we reported last week – £50M.
Deputy Joe McHugh said talks in Armagh were very constructive.
“We’ve kept the project alive and that is good,” said the Fine Gael TD.
Two civil servants from each jurisdiction will meet next week to discuss taking the issue further.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness all reaffirmed their commitment to the road that will run from Derry to Augnacloy, linking Donegal to Dublin.
But its future direction will now depend on the fresh round of discussions between officials from north and south. Mr McGuinness said: “I think it is still a work in progress.”
He said people were tempted to write off the project when news of the Irish government decision was made known but as a result of discussions the government had now agreed to assign £25 million in 2015 and £25 million in 2016.
Mr McGuinness said: “Against the backdrop of the financial difficulties that exist, it’s a matter of how we can take the process forward. It is far, far too soon to write this project off.”
Mr Robinson said the Executive was still committed to the A5 and the A8 that runs from the Port of Larne to Belfast.
The Taoiseach said the decision to support the A5 was a formal decision of government and he reaffirmed that commitment. He added: “That has sent out the message that the commitment that we have made is against the background of very changed economic circumstances.
“We recognise this as being a flagship project for the North West and we want to see that it happens, and given the constraints that are on us financially, we have made that visible, formal decision to allocate in 2015 and 2016.”
Mr McGuinness said: “I think it’s fair to say that we are content that officials, as a result of an NSMC decision, have been charged with the responsibility to bring forward a funding and implementation plan.”