The leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood has reiterated his call for greater clarity to establish the long-term financial promises made in the Budget to develop the A5 and A6.
“There is no debate about whether or not the North-West needs the A5 and A6. People west of the Bann have waited 50 years for the development of a modern roads infrastructure. The potential to create safer roads and attract investment is clear. It is positive that we return to these plans and the SDLP have long called for real commitment to actually see it happen.
“That is why I am once again asking to see the evidence for how these blueprints are going to be turned into a reality. In the last few years the Executive has spent millions on these projects and we are no further along. If we’re now being asked to believe these plans, let’s see the detail.
“While some Executive Ministers might like writing wish lists for Santa, it is not a way to plan for much-needed infrastructure projects across the North. Furthermore it is simply wrong to lead the thousands of people who work in the construction industry up the garden path with promises of good days to come if there is no intention on delivering on them. It is little wonder people are cynical. These same promises have been made and broken before.
“Sinn Féin and DUP have for 9 years led an economic agenda which has increased regional economic inequality. Whether in terms of FDI investment, skills or infrastructure, both Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster have presided over the continued neglect of the North-West.
“The electorate are wise to their record in government. They have repeatedly over-promised and under-delivered. Desperate last-minute promises before an election will not work. The people of the North-West do not believe them.
“It is also important to say that last week’s budget represents only a third of the capital required to build these roads. DRD figures show that the combined A5 and A6 projects will cost around £1.4 billion. This Executive budget allocates only £488 million.
“No-one should be fooled that this is the full package. What was presented last week is not going to be enough to effect the change the North needs. The SDLP is not in the business of giving others cover to pretend that it is. This Budget has to stand up to full scrutiny in order to ensure that it’s not just another empty document, full of empty promises.”