Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley has said that the delay to the A5 road upgrade over the last decade due to legal challenges by the Alternative A5 Alliance has been deeply frustrating.
Speaking ahead of attending the first stage of the public inquiry which focuses on the environmental impact in Omagh today, the West Tyrone MP said:
“The A5 road upgrade is vital to improve road safety, reduce journey times and help stimulate the economy of the wider north west.
“The Department for Infrastructure has estimated that the new A5 could prevent more than 2,000 crashes, 2,750 casualties and 19 fatalities over 60 years.
“Considering there have been 1024 casualties, including 22 fatalities over the last seven years, this could be seen as a conservative estimate.
“It is deeply frustrating therefore that progress on the road upgrade has been delayed by legal challenges from a small and unrepresentative minority, the Alternative A5 Alliance.
“This vital project needs to progress as soon as possible to reduce the dangers that road users are currently facing on the A5 and for the economic advantages that will result from greater connectivity between the north west and the rest of Ireland.
“Addressing regional imbalance is a priority for Sinn Féin, as is protecting the environment.
“We are committed to addressing the wider environmental issues that will be brought up over the course of this public inquiry such as air pollution and ecological conservation.
“This means committing to sustainability via a full transition to renewable energy, as well as the reforesting of our island, and the overall strengthening of our environmental protection powers.
“The A5 has faced many delays over the years, to the detriment of road safety. It’s well past time for work to commence on this crucial project.”