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Munster questions whether Minister’s PANCR support is ‘genuine’

Imelda Munster
Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster pictured at Leinster House. Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons License.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has challenged new Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to keep to his word and progress the construction of the Northern Cross Route in Drogheda.

Munster queried the Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Tuesday about the issue, referring to Louth County Council’s latest application for funding to progress the project.

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Last year, the local authority unsuccessfully appealed the decision not to grant funding through the Urban Regeneration Fund, meaning the project which would link the M1 north of Drogheda to Drogheda Port and in turn create new neighbourhoods and urban areas in land north of the town, remained on the shelf.

“Louth County Council has made another application under the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, for this vital and badly needed piece of infrastructure,” Deputy Munster said during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil on Tuesday. “It would also open up lands to provide homes in the depths of a housing crisis.

She referenced the visit made by new Minister O’Brien to Drogheda last year when, ahead of the local elections, he joined Fianna Fáil candidates Anthony Moore and James Byrne to voice his support for the NCR. Deputy Munster believed it is now time for the Minister to back up his words with funding.

“Just over a year ago, the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, was in Drogheda with Fianna Fáil councillors in the run-up to the local elections. He called for the funding to be provided for the Northern Cross Route,” she said. “Little did he know that just over a year later, he would be Minister in that Department with the ability to ensure that that funding can be given for the NCR.

“Can we take as genuine the Minister’s word that funding should be provided? Will he deliver?”

Deputy O’Brien’s visit to the town last year was his second visit to Drogheda in recent years in which he referenced the Port Access Northern Cross Route’s potential for aiding the need for major housing builds in the greater Drogheda area.

The Taoiseach responded by saying that Minister O’Brien would examine the matter. “Certainly, we will see what we can do on it. I will not make any off-the-cuff commitments today. Given the opportunity to increase the building of housing, it is obviously something we will look at very carefully,” he said.

Earlier this year, the local authority confirmed they were seeking to “get ahead of the curve” and were exploring all avenues of funding, including round two of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. An application has subsequently been lodged via the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund.

Up to 4,000 houses could be built should a new PANCR be built, while the new infrastructure could help eliminate the town centre gridlock exacerbated by the large volume of HGV traffic from the Drogheda Port area.

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