'Resumption of funding essential' - Pádraig mac Lochlainn TD
The Irish Government's removal of long-term funding from City of Derry Airport has been challenged.
Donegal TD, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the resumption of funding was “essential”.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said a total of 40% of the passengers who use City of Derry Airport are from Donegal. The airport has connections to London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and a number of other locations in Europe.
“An Taoiseach knows, the geography of Donegal means that people in Inishowen, Letterkenny and Finn Valley use City of Derry Airport and those in the rest of the country would use the airport in West Donegal,” Deputy Mac Lochlainn said. “We have not seen the delivery of the A5 project. That whole party has been a heartbreaker.
“It just has not come through. We do not have a rail connection from the fourth largest city, with half a million people, to our capital city of Dublin. There is no motorway, no rail connection and, for the past ten years, no air connection.
“This project is essential and I appeal to the Taoiseach to work with the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to whom, as well as to the Minister of State, Deputy Naughton, to whom I spoke in the Chamber on April 26.
“I made the same appeal to them that they work together with the Taoiseach, through the shared island initiative, to deliver funding to the airport.
“That would mean we can get this region of half a million people to connect to Dublin Airport and the rest of the world. It is not just about commuting to Dublin.
“It is about connecting to the rest of the world and ensuring tourists and the rest of the world can connect, through Dublin, on to Derry and into the north west. It is vital. It is about equality of access. I know the Taoiseach understands this but we really need the issue to be tackled once and for all. It has been ten years of delays and we need it sorted out.”
Replying to Deputy Mac Lochlainn, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had recently had a “worthwhile” visit to Derry, meeting with the North West Regional Development Group.
He said: “The specific issue of City of Derry Airport was raised by the group. I will engage further with the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, on the matter.
“We would be interested in working on it with the aviation authorities and airlines to get a service going. It would be a good idea to get a service going between Derry and Dublin because there is the issue of connectivity generally around the north west.
“The Minister has commissioned, and the shared island unit is funding, an all-island railway feasibility study. We are prepared to fund the A5 but it seems bogged down in planning issues.
“I take Deputy Mac Lochlainn's point about the connectivity issue, that if you can get a flight to Dublin, you can get flights across Europe and the world more generally. I would be anxious to work with all concerned to see if we can advance that. I am very struck by the cohesion within the north-west region. The group was chaired by the DUP, and all political parties were represented.
“The group has been working for quite a long time on economic and social issues, health, education and so forth. I had a very good visit to Altnagelvin Hospital. Previous governments have put €19 million into the cancer treatment centre in Altnagelvin.
“I saw the cardiac cath labs there, which are available to people in the north west, Donegal in particular. It just makes a lot of sense to try to support such groups, and the shared island unit stands ready to do that,” the Taoiseach said.
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