Package would fund biggest-ever cross-border project

If accepted, the new financial package for the North announced today is to fund biggest-ever cross-border project to date - a major motorway to Donegal and Derry.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's Cabinet has pledged £400m (€589.5m) of British Chancellor Gordon Brown's total £1bn (€1.47bn) fund to help devolved Assembly ministers deal with infrastructural challenges in the months ahead.

Minister for Finance Minster Brian Cowen said the dual-carriageway road stretching to Derry and Donegal would remove the single biggest impediment to the future development of the Northwest and the border counties.

"It will be the biggest and most important cross-border project ever on this island," he added.

As Monday's deadline for devolution nears, Mr Cowen said Brown's package offers a real opportunity for economic progress to accompany political stability in the North.

"This unprecedented investment has been made possible through the joint contribution of the Irish and British governments and will benefit everybody on this island.

"The agreement on a major cross-border roads programme and a new North/South research and innovation fund represent the type of imaginative and ambitious policies that we need to pursue to secure peace and build future prosperity."

The Chancellor also supports wide proposals benefiting the North contained in the Irish Government's National Development Plan 2007-2013.

Mr Cowen said he now looked forward to the progression of projects like the Ulster Canal, Narrow Water Bridge as well as tourism and regional development.

"Work is already under way on a number of other projects, such as the re-opening of border roads, City of Derry Airport, the North West Gateway Initiative, electricity interconnection and the single electricity market," he added.

"There is also huge untapped potential for improving public services such as health and education through working together."

Most Read in Ireland