The A5: ‘Mo money, mo problems’

The most significant factor regarding the fate of the A5 dual carriageway between Aughnacloy and Derry, is not the arguments eschewed by either of the respective pro and anti lobbies, but rather where the Department of Regional Development (DRD) is going to find the funds to pay for their share of the project, which latest estimates put at a massive £500m.

“Isn’t the Irish Government paying for it?” I hear you rhetorically ask. Well yes, Dublin did promise £400m toward the project, however that money is also destined for work on the A8 Belfast to Larne carriageway. Rough estimates from Wesley Johnston’s online labour of love devoted to road projects, puts the split between the respective projects at 85/15 (based on the roads costing the same per kilometre). Rough yes, but a £340m is still a reasonable, if not modest estimate of the A5’s share.

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The DPP and me

Tonight was my first experience of covering a local District Policing Partnership (DPP) meeting as a journalist.

Driving through the wind and rain over the atrocious Fintona to Trillick road in absolute darkness, at times more akin to tarred sand dunes, I eventually found the venue in Trillick for October’s monthly meeting of the Omagh DPP. (No thanks to directions to completely different venue from a colleague who actually lives in the village).

I had my homework done before hand, arriving having already digested the six month DPP report, which is normally handed out on arrival at the meeting. But a diligent reporter I work with managed to procure a copy earlier, which definitely helped.

I know already from experience of covering health trust, education and library board meetings etc, that it is always better going into a meeting knowing what you are looking for story-wise, rather than arriving cold with a wait-and-see approach. Although, the content of DPP meetings is infinitely easier to digest compared with jargon fuelled health trust/ELB board meetings. That is no doubt down to the fact that the whole ethos between the DPP is public participation and police scrutiny, however there wasn’t too much of either tonight.

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