Investment in road network must be prioritised to help Brexit-proof Border region – Brendan Smith

east west
– Transport Minister to visit Cavan/Monaghan –
– Disappointment that East/West route is not prioritised in National Development Plan –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has accused the government of failing to adequately plan for the scale of the impact of Brexit on the local economy.

During questions to the Minister for Transport, Deputy Smith highlighted the fact that the Cavan-Monaghan region is very heavily dependent on the agri-food, construction and engineering sectors, whose products all need to be transported to ports and airports in order to be exported to the market-place.

Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “Companies based in the Border region need assistance so that they can remain competitive.  One of the main issues is the state of the roads network, which is in urgent need of upgrading.  Because of the fact there is no rail service in Cavan, Monaghan or Donegal, companies based in these counties are solely dependent on our roads, many of which need urgent investment.

“The East-West route should be developed as a priority, but unfortunately the project was completely omitted from the high profile National Development Plan.  For all the fanfare that surrounded it, there are a number of important projects that are not even referenced.

“In the early 2000s, the east-west route from Dundalk to Sligo was identified as an important project. Under successive Fianna Fáil-led governments this project was progressed – roads were upgraded, the Belturbet and Cavan by-passes were built and planning and design work was carried out for the section of the route from Cootehill, through Shercock and Carrickmacross to Dundalk.  However, in 2012 the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar failed to continue the funding stream for these essential projects and they were effectively shelved.

“Cavan and Monaghan are home to a number of major engineering and agriculture companies – all of which need proper roads infrastructure to move their products out of their bases.

“I invited Minister Shane Ross to visit the two counties and see for himself the huge potential of this region, if the right infrastructure is secured.  I am pleased that he has accepted this invitation and I look forward to continuing discussions on this issue with him over the upcoming months”.