NEW YEARS MESSAGE FROM WEST TYRONE MP MLA PAT DOHERTY
Published: 1 January, 2012
In a New Year's message, Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP MLA Pat Doherty says that in 2012 his primary focus will continue to be on delivering major strategic projects which have the potential to deliver thousands of jobs within the constituency despite facing into the most challenging economic conditions in generations.
"In the face of the most challenging economic conditions in generations as we face into 2012 my key priority, and that of Sinn Féin elected representatives throughout the constituency, will be to bring to fruition the major strategic projects in which we have been to the fore in spearheading for the last number of years.
"Despite the setback for the A5 Dual Carriageway project resulting from the Irish government's funding withdrawal announcement, the Irish government has now re-affirmed its commitment to the Project and with a combined re-profiling exercise now being undertaken by administrations north and south there is no reason why construction cannot begin on all three phases in September 2012 (as previously agreed) with northern contributions alone with new completion dates agreed. Sinn Féin will be standing firm that this must happen in the Executive and Assembly.
"Plans for both Opportunity Omagh and the Three Rivers Project in Strabane are at an extremely advanced stage and combined these two projects alone have the potential to create thousands of jobs, both at the construction phase and long-term, and we will continue to work with the investors and all relevant departments and agencies to make them a reality this year.
"Detailed plans for the Education Village Campus at the Lisanelly/St Lucia site were formally unveiled in December and I look forward to continued progress being made in bringing this visionary project to reality in the coming year. Equally important for Strabane is securing the 'Reconciliation Through The Riverine Project' and the community pedestrian cycle bridge and no stone is being left unturned to ensure a positive outcome for these projects of such socio-economic importance for the area.
"2011 saw the battle won in terms of other long-term projects of strategic importance for the constituency namely: the go-ahead being announced for the Radiotherapy Cancer Unit at Altnagelvin; a £75 new build for the Tyrone County and the announcement of a 7m investment to develop a Strategic Business Park at Melmount Road in Strabane.
"The Tory led government slashed £4 billion from the block grant to the North, leaving a gaping hole in each Assembly department budget. This coupled with the increasingly detrimental impact of its 'Welfare Reform' crusade against the poorest sections of society (with areas with high levels multi-deprivation like West Tyrone being affected worst), the pressing need to secure these other major infrastructure and job-creation projects for the constituency simply cannot be over-stated.
"The policy of austerity being pursued by conservative governments in London and Dublin and by the European Union is strangling the Irish economy and causing severe hardship for families north and south. It not only underlines the need for fiscal powers to be transferred to the northern Executive, but increasingly is exposing the irrationality of planning services and infrastructure on a partitioned basis in an island of only 6 million people with limited resources.
"The development of an all-Ireland economy is the logical means to target limited resources for the maximum benefit of all on this island and Sinn Féin will ensure that the issue is kept firmly on the political agenda in the year ahead.
"For example, on the 28th January Sinn Féin will be hosting a major United Ireland Conference in the Millennium Forum in Derry to give people the opportunity to engage, in a focussed way, on the vast array of political, social and economic issues relevant to uniting Ireland. The construction of a new national democracy on the island of Ireland, in which everyone has a full and equal stake, is something which can be achieved by working together and I would like to extend and open invite for people to come along, join in the debate and help to chart the next steps towards a New Republic'.
"There are many unknowns as we face into 2012, but I hope that in this year we can derive the maximum benefit from the opportunities that are opening up both locally and nationally.
I would like to conclude by wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity in the year ahead. Bliain úr faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh uilig