I wish to highlight a cross-Border issue of great importance to the people of the north west, namely, the N2-A5 link between Dublin, Derry and Letterkenny. Anyone who has travelled around County Donegal to support Senator Ó Domhnaill in the past few days will recognise the need to progress that road with as much speed as possible.
Considerable work has been done by the North-South Ministerial Council on this project and I acknowledge that a commitment has been made on funding. Discussions are now focused on the technical aspects of who pays what, where and why. Disputes have arisen with certain landowners on the project. I had the opportunity to attend public consultations concerning parts of the road.
It is important the Minister of State provides further clarity on the status of this project, either in his reply or through the Minister for Transport. When I raise the issue of the road from Dublin to Strabane and Ballybofey, I find that people speak about it in a partitionist way. They speak about the stretch from Aughnacloy to Derry but not the parts on either side. The Minister of State will probably tell me that the NRA is in charge of the rest of it and, therefore, we cannot discuss it. If this is a single project, there should be a consensus on how it should proceed because there is no point in allowing one side to advance more rapidly than the other.
Over the weekend, I spoke to landowners in Lifford who are confused about the level of detail and when things are happening. If that is the case in Lifford, I am sure it is the same along the other parts of the road located in the Republic. The NRA is not communicating with us to the same degree as appears to be the case for the A5. In the good times, employment growth was not very visible in my area, although a certain number of jobs were created in Letterkenny and we welcomed every job we got. I want to highlight the fact that since we developed our infrastructure, Project Kelvin has been commenced in the north west even though this has been a much more challenging time economically. Like most people, I do not have an idea of the detail of the project. If I was asked to give a detailed breakdown of what Project Kelvin entails, all I would be able to say is that €30 million has been invested to provide for high-speed data connectivity to America. That is as much as I need to know. A serious expression of interest that was submitted after the project was implemented has led to an application for planning permission in the Border area between Bridgend and Derry. It seems that similar progress on the job creation front has been made in Buncrana.
It is clear, therefore, that if we put the infrastructure in place, the jobs will follow regardless of whether the corporation tax rate is changed or equalised across the island of Ireland. The fact that the rate of corporation tax was better in Donegal than it was in Derry did not result in the same level of investment that exists now that Project Kelvin has been put in place. The road project I am raising is another example of necessary infrastructure. There is a need for high-speed road access from Dublin to Letterkenny and on to Bridgend. There is no reason we should not look for EU funding for such a project. Similarly, a railway service between Dublin and Donegal town is needed. At the moment, one can travel from Dublin to Belfast by rail and then take another train from the same station to Derry. We need a link. If a cross-Border element is needed, perhaps the Belfast line can be extended to Letterkenny or Bridgend. We should be looking at that. The railway infrastructure exists to bring one from Dublin to Derry. It just needs to be upgraded.
Access is key. There is a PSO route between Dublin and Derry. As things stand, the best way of travelling between the two cities is by air. I drive to Dublin week in, week out. If the level of detail we want is in the reply to be provided by the Minister of State, Deputy Haughey, that is fair enough. We have not got that level of detail so far. We are familiar with the generality of what is happening. We would like to get details of the timescales so we know when things will happen on the ground. We want to know how they will affect the A5-N2, which is a single road even though it is known by two names. I assume that even in these economically challenging times, the Minister of State will underscore the repeated commitments that have been made with regard to the road. Perhaps that is a dangerous assumption. For the people of the north west, this road is the equivalent of the motorways that have been built throughout most of the rest of the island of Ireland.