EU/IMF ‘orders’ termination of cross-border peace project

The 26-County government has been accused of reneging on a deal struck during the North’s peace talks after it pulled the plug on funding for a major cross-border road link.

Plans to build the A5 dual carriageway from Monaghan to Derry have been shelved as part of cuts announced in the 26-County state’s capital expenditure plans. The highway was seen as an important element of the 2006 St Andrews Agreement.

The road would have finally provided an important transport link between Dublin and county Donegal in northwest Ireland, access to which was largely cut off by the partition of 1921 and the establishment of the Six-County border.

It was announced by the government as part of cuts which included the abandonment of a link to Dublin airport and the cancellation of an urban light rail project and two new prisons.

Sinn Fein politicians from both sides of the border - Pat Doherty MP and TDs Pearse Doherty, Padraig MacLochlainn and Caomhghin O Caolain - have demanded a meeting with the 26-County PM, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, over the road cancellation. Mr Doherty said the decision was “disturbing”.

“This project was the result of protracted negotiations and agreement between the governments and political parties at St Andrews and it is incumbent on the Irish government to fulfil its responsibility under that agreement,” he said.

A government spokesperson said the plan was cancelled at the request of an international fiscal oversight body set up by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

However, Sinn Fein produced a letter from Mr Kenny, dated from before he took office as Taoiseach in March, that stated Fine Gael’s full support for the project.

Mr MacLochlainn contrasted comments by Kenny recently in which he stressed the need to honour ‘commitments’ by Anglo Irish Bank to pay its unsecured bondholders, to the decision to unilaterally pull the plug on a part of an international treaty.

“This is unacceptable, the North West and Donegal/Derry in particular has been ignored for too long,” he added.

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