A WAR of words has broken out between two Mid Ulster MLAs over the proposed A6 Randalstown to Castledawson dual carriageway.
DUP MLA Ian McCrea has hit out at Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend who had voiced her ‘shock’ at his Assembly remarks on the project.
“I am sure it will come as no surprise that when I speak, I do so for the people that I represent. This has always been my pledge to the people of Mid Ulster,” said Councillor McCrea.
“My comments have clearly touched a raw nerve with Sandra Overend given her ridiculous remarks in last week’s paper, where she uttered her complete shock when I voiced concerns around the proposed A6 Randalstown - Toome – Castledawson dualling project,” he said.
“My remarks at the scheme being a waste are only directed at the urgent need for a by-pass around Magherafelt; especially due to the fact that the town is at a standstill at most times of the day,” said the DUP man.
“This is inhibiting the ability of local traders to make a living, especially in the current climate. Having met with local businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce in the past I am more than aware of the problems they suffer due to traffic congestion which deters people from shopping in the town.
“People can barely get in and get out of the town, even for the smallest of things. This is forcing people to take their trade elsewhere,” Councillor McCrea added.
“Everybody knows that Magherafelt is dying on its feet and if the situation is left to continue I fear for the future of many local businesses, especially in the town centre. As elected representatives we have a responsibility to speak up and speak out and I make no apology for standing up for the need of a by-pass around Magherafelt before any dualling of the A6 is carried out.
“While I agree that traffic is currently congested around Toome, I believe that this will only move the problem further up the road to Magherafelt as the bottle neck created at Toome will only choke this already congested town. Having spoken with both traders and residents’ since last week they agree that the priorities rest elsewhere. The priorities of the schemes associated with Magherafelt should be to sustain and build up the local economy.
“Having served the local area for many years I understand that with Sandra only being elected in May she is maybe only finding her feet around local issues. It is unfortunate that Sandra seeks to attack me rather than join with me in trying to prioritise and protect the needs of the local community,” said the DUP MLA.