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‘A5 cannot be allowed to drift’

A SINN Féin delegation has challenged Department for Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon on her A5
record.

Taking place via an online forum on Wednesday (April 7) senior party figures including West Tyrone MP, Órfhlaith Begley and MLAs, Maolíosa McHugh and Declan McAleer met with Minister Mallon, with Ms Begley saying that she had expressed her disbelief at yet another public inquiry into the A5.

Last month, Nichola Mallon reaffirmed her commitment to progressing the proposed dual carriageway, after it emerged that the public inquiry into the muchdelayed road scheme will have to be reopened early next year.

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The SDLP MLA was speaking after the publication of an interim Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) report into the proceedings of last year’s public inquiry into the project, which was held over seven days in February and March 2020.

However, Sinn Fein has said that further delays could have been avoided if the minister had fihad her ducks in
a row.

“The Commissioner’s report is very critical of DFI and it highlights the failure of the Department to adequately
prepare the scheme for construction,” ÓrfhlaithBegley said.

“It is alarming that the Commissioner has made 30 recommendations and that the Department did not see fit to address these issues prior to the third public inquiry which occurred last March.

“One recommendation highlighted that the Departmental report on flood risk assessment was not fit for purpose and predated the most recent flooding along sections of the A5.

“As a direct consequence of the Department being unprepared, Minister Mallon confirmed that there will
be a further environmental assessment and yet another public inquiry scheduled for May 2022.

“It is unacceptable that under Minister Mallon’s watch many of the departmental reports were not sufficiently
examined and updated.

“It beggars belief that this could have happened on the third public inquiry on the A5.

“The A5 was promised 14 years ago, we cannot allow this project to continuously drift.

“The recent announcement is a major blow resulting in further delays which could have been avoided if the Minister had her ducks in a row”.

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