Wednesday 13 December 2017

DUP road cash will leave Ireland more 'united'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Paul Melia

The "grubby" deal struck between the Tories and DUP may have done more to unite Ireland than the hardline unionist party intended.

The £1bn (€1.13bn) cash injection into Northern Ireland includes funding for a £165m (€186m) road scheme to ease congestion on Belfast's overloaded roads network. While it will obviously benefit the city, it's also good news for hauliers, tourists and commuters travelling across the Border.

The York Street Interchange involves construction of an underpass and bridge and is designed to improve links between the M1, M2 and M3. Used by more than 100,000 vehicles a day, many link with the M1 heading south to the Border and on to Dublin.

The scheme is one of a number identified by business groups north and south of the Border which are considered vital to improve north/south connectivity.

Read More: Scotland threatens to take action over Tories' 'grubby' deal

Until British Prime Minister Theresa May found herself in need of the DUP's backing, the project had been on hold. That's all changed. As part of the deal, some £200m (€226m) is earmarked for infrastructure development, including York Street. Once complete, it effectively removes a bottleneck on the national motorway network, and will allow traffic to travel uninterrupted from Antrim in the north to Cork.

Earlier this month, the Irish Independent revealed that road projects totalling €1.7bn were needed to stave off the worst effects of a hard Brexit and improve transport links between the north-west and Dublin.

The 'confidence and supply' deal will be reviewed in two years, giving the unionists the opportunity to demand more money, so more funding may be forthcoming.

And while the DUP has committed to supporting the Conservatives on Brexit and the budget, there's nothing to stop it demanding cash for other roads in return for its support for other legislation, which can only be good for the entire island.

Irish Independent

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