Thursday, June 20, 2024

Any investment in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure has to be welcomed

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Any investment in infrastructure has to be welcomed.

And that it comes from the government of the Republic of Ireland, as the new NI Executive enters only its third week since it was re-established, will not be a surprise.

A UK Government command paper seemed to signal the end of any idea of an all-Ireland economy.

The timing was right for the Taoiseach to reassert a commitment to invest on this side of the border to the tune of €800m.

It’s an injection of finance that has the ability to save lives, provide a real economic boost, help deliver the redevelopment of Casement Park and improve the cross-border rail link between Belfast and Dublin, to be released as part of the Dublin government’s Shared Island initiative.

That €600m will be heading to the vital work on the notorious A5 Derry-to-Aughnacloy road is particularly welcome — a road which has claimed more than 50 lives since 2006.

Campaigners have been thwarted at several stalled attempts to see the necessary improvements made to what is a main corridor through the west of Northern Ireland.

That the funding means work could begin later this year is even better news.

So too is the funding for Casement Park.

After the GAA indicated funding from the organisation would be increased, the onus is now on all involved to get the project well and truly off the ground.

So much has been made of the financial cliff edge over which Northern Ireland is staring — even with the UK Government’s promised £3.3bn aimed at the restoration of the NI Executive.

Much of that is already ring-fenced for projects already committed to.

What is arriving now will breathe new life into a Northern Ireland which has been gasping for money.

It’s a statement of ambition, a vote of confidence in the country we can become, and a welcome flow of finance we are simply in no position to turn our noses up at.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the cross-border support was welcome, but that it is “not the job or the responsibility” of the Irish Government to provide financial support for the provision of public services and general Northern Ireland infrastructure — rather, it is a matter for the UK Government.

Sir Jeffrey should now be putting the pressure on London to match the ambition of Dublin.

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