British 'must match Irish investments in North'

The British government was told today it must match any investment the Irish Government makes in the North’s infrastructure.

The British government was told today it must match any investment the Irish Government makes in the North’s infrastructure.

Sinn Féin vice president Pat Doherty described reports that the Brian Cowen is preparing to plough €1bn of Irish Government money into infrastructural projects north of the border as potentially very significant.

The funding is believed to have been allocated in the Republic’s National Development Plan for 2007-13.

Mr Doherty, who has been campaigning for improved road and rail links in counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan, was encouraged by reports that the Govt would fund the upgrading of the 90-mile A5 route between Derry and Aughnacloy and the provision of radiotherapy services at Altnagelvin Hospital.

“If, as it now appears, the Dublin government is prepared to make a substantial investment in this key strategic transport corridor from the north west to Dublin then I view this development as being very significant,” the West Tyrone MP said.

“However, the potential to overcome one of the most glaring infrastructural deficits on the island of Ireland will only be realised if the British government also agree to play ball and come up to the plate with its own financial package for this and other essential infrastructural projects.”

Northern Ireland Assembly parties have also discussed with the two governments a peace dividend to bolster a new power sharing executive that may be formed at Stormont next March.

Sinn Féin has called for a €14.9bn package to be given to the executive over 10 years to tackle the infrastructure deficit in Northern Ireland.

Stormont’s politicians will discuss the package with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown next month.

In May, Sinn Féin MPs, TDs, MEPs and councillors launched a campaign for a motorway between Derry and Dublin.

The party and the nationalist SDLP have also pressed the Irish and British governments to draw up a strategy for – and invest in – hospitals along the border and backed calls for stronger economic ties.

Mr Doherty said his party had been campaigning for a satellite cancer centre for the north west based at either Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry or Letterkenny in Co Donegal.

“The inclusion of proposed funding for radiotherapy Services at Altnagelvin in this National Development Plan is another encouraging sign that maybe the socio-economic needs of the people of the north west are at long last being taking seriously,” he said.

“Maybe there is now going to be a move away from the partitionist thinking of both governments which has impeded development and equality on this island for generations.”

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