Cowen outlines road to peace

Radically improving infrastructure in both jurisdictions will create economic and social progress and boost political momentum, Finance Minister Brian Cowen said today.

Opening tonight’s Ogra Fianna Fail conference, he said: “I have no doubt that upgrading the Dublin-Derry road or a Belfast-Derry dual carriageway would do more to convince people of the seriousness of our intent to promote North-South economic co-operation than any amount of talking about talks could ever conjure up.”

“This means making decisions that will bring economic and social progress. Both governments should take the strategic decisions necessary to enable major infrastructure projects to go ahead without any further delay.

“The interests of everybody in both jurisdictions would be geatly enhanced if such a start was made to begin improving our infrastructure, North and South, as a basic building block to improving the economic and social conditions of the people.”

The Offaly TD told 600 delegates in Ennis improving people’s everyday lives would lead to more British-Irish cooperation which would enhance competitiveness and drive job creation and investment.

He said addressing bread and butter issues on the ground would inject fresh impetus into political talks.

“Let’s see a stop to the haranguing, let everybody rid themselves of their respective sense of grievance,” he said.

“Let’s do the business so that people from all side don’t have to put up with the same old rhetoric. While others grapple with the reality of co-existence with the other side in the executive, let the two governments show the way by making decisions that provide economic benefits and add to the political momentum.”

Earlier, Ogra chairman Barry Andrews called for greater efforts to encourage more people to get involved in local and national politics.

“Not only should young people be encouraged to become involved in shaping our future, they should also become involved in community groups and really make a difference in their own local areas,” the Dun Laoghaire TD said.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is due to give the keynote address tomorrow night at the two-day event in Co Clare.

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