The Prime Minister has been accused of a “stunt” after it was announced the feasibility of building a bridge or tunnel between Northern Ireland and Scotland will be examined in a new UK-wide review.
Downing Street said the review, led by Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy, will explore the “cost, practicality and demand” for a fixed link, which has been mooted by Boris Johnson several times.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the PM should instead be listening to the voices of the regional governments.
She said: “In another stunt, the British Prime Minister has been out promoting his ‘Union’ connectivity review. Instead of listening to the voices of the devolved administrations, the Prime Minister continues his flag-flying project, focusing on his vanity Boris bridge, instead of investing in life-improving, economy enhancing, all-island transformative projects.”
The Ulster Unionists, however, called for Ms Mallon to be “an active participant” in the review. Infrastructure spokesman Roy Beggs MLA said it was more important than ever UK connectivity was reviewed.
“Just because we may have differences in priorities doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t participate positively in those discussions,” he said. “We could start by ensuring there is no border in the Irish Sea, ending domestic air passenger duty, developing low or no emission ferries or improving the substandard A75 and A77 roads which serve Cairnryan Port.
“The NI Executive and Minister for Infrastructure should be active participants in these conversations.”
Ms Mallon said “London-imposed Tory glamour projects” should be avoided, which she said only serve the Prime Minister’s manifesto pledges.
“It’s still true: you cannot eat a flag,” she added.
“If the British Government want to invest here, bring it on, but instead of plucking new manifesto plans out of the Tory handbook, they should start by paying for the pledges they already made in New Decade, New Approach.” The review comes after Mr Johnson in July pledged a spend of £100m on road projects across the UK.
He said: “The UK is the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen and we need transport links between our nations that are as strong as our historic bonds.”
The review is expected to report in the summer.
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