The Government has been accused of reneging on a deal struck during the North's peace talks after pulling 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 along with multi-billion schemes for two metro lines in Dublin and super-prison complexes.
Final details of the 2012-16 spending plan and the massive cost-cutting will be unveiled tomorrow by Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Government sources stressing the focus of limited budgets is on jobs, schools and hospitals.
Sinn Féin 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 Taoiseach over the A5.
Mr Doherty, MLA for West Tyrone, 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.
The A5 dual carriageway scheme included commitments to upgrade 19km between Monaghan and Aughnacloy and 24km from Letterkenny to Lifford.
Already off the books of the Government’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment plan are Dublin’s Metro North and West, the Dart underground link to Heuston Station and the prisons at Thornton Hall and Kilworth, Cork.
They are all victim of the restraints of the 85 billion euro IMF and European bailout loans.
A Government spokeswoman said the Government remains politically committed to the A5 scheme.
“However, given the tight fiscal constraints, roads investment will be focused on maintaining existing roads, rather than developing new routes. It is therefore not anticipated that significant resources will be available for this project over the medium term,” she said.
Sinn Féin 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.
Mark Durkan, MP for the SDLP in Foyle, originally negotiated funding for the A5 during delicate talks on the St Andrews Agreement which revived the Stormont Assembly.
“This is a very disappointing decision on the key infrastructure project for the north-west,” Mr Durkan said.
The former SDLP leader said he has raised concerns with Stormont finance minister Sammy Wilson and also ministers in the Republic.
His party’s newly elected leader Alasdair McDonnell met Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin today.
Ireland North West MEP Pat ’the Cope’ Gallagher said as recently as September Mr Kenny unreservedly committed his Government to the A5 project despite the economic constraints.
“All other regions of the country have been served by high quality roads. It is absolutely essential that the road infrastructure in the North West is brought up to the standard which exists in other parts,” he said.
“Why should the North West suffer once again? It is obvious that this Government has no commitment to cross border projects.”
Padriag MacLochlainn, TD in Donegal, accused Mr Kenny of lecturing people on honouring commitments to pay unsecured Anglo bondholders, while unilaterally pulling the plug on another deal.
“This is unacceptable, the North West and Donegal/Derry in particular has been ignored for too long,” he added.