Ulster Unionist Regional Development spokesman Roy Beggs MLA has said that his party and DRD Minister Danny Kennedy deserve an abject apology from both the DUP and Sinn Fein in the wake of Minister’s Kennedy announcement bringing forward work on the upgrade of the Londonderry to Belfast rail line. By re-profiling his Department’s budget away from major roads schemes such as the A5 which are currently subject to public enquiries, the Minister has been able to reallocate funds to start the first phase of the rail upgrade. This will involve relaying the end section of the line at Coleraine and Londonderry and completing essential bridge works.
Roy Beggs MLA said:
“Over the summer, and during an Assembly debate on the Londonderry rail line in September, Sinn Fein and DUP representatives from the north west were tripping over themselves to blame Danny Kennedy and the Ulster Unionist Party about the delay in funding the major upgrade to the Londonderry rail line.”
The DUP’s Adrian McQuillan said in the Assembly, “The North-West is being wrongly targeted and discriminated against by the Minister’s party.” His Sinn Fein colleague Raymond McCartney said in a press release on 24th August, ““It would seem that Danny Kennedy — true to the historical Ulster Unionist Party approach to everything that would benefit Derry — is determined to dismantle all of the foundations for progress”.
Mr Beggs continued:
“These ridiculous statements are all the more outrageous because it was the DUP and Sinn Fein- backed up by the Alliance party- which voted through a budget in the spring which in clear language delayed and denied any funding for the much needed upgrade to the Londonderry rail line until right at the end of the current 4 year budget period- 2015/15. This was a budget approved by the then DRD Minister- Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy.
Given new Minister Danny Kennedy’s ability to work the oracle and reprioritise his Department’s budget to allow work to start of the Londonderry line, the least that should be expected from Sinn Fein/DUP is that they issue an abject apology for their defamation of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Minister for Regional Development. A joint statement would suffice."