NORTHERN Ireland’s Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has hit back over criticism of the Magherafelt bypass project, which is now expected to start next year.
In a letter to the Mid Ulster Mail, the DUP minister said ‘a conscious decision’ had already been made before he could make a formal announcement, which he delivered at the beginning of this week, when he pledged £40 million to the scheme.
Mr Wilson said he and the First Minister Peter Robinson had ‘first hand’ experience of the traffic jams around the town, during a recent visit to meet with traders.
“I was very disappointed to read only last week comments from the Ulster Unionist MLA, Mrs Sandra Overend and SDLP’s MLA Patsy McGlone who openly criticised the Executive for failing to protect funding for the Magherafelt by-pass,” Mr Wilson wrote.
The row erupted when a motion tabled by the UUP calling for the progression of the bypass, was amended by the DUP.
UUP MLA for Mid Ulster Sandra Overend said at the time, she was surprised that the “Sinn Fein-DUP alliance refused to support an opportunity to make real progress” on the much needed bypass.
Last week, she welcomed the funding announcement, but added: “It should not go unnoticed that only two weeks ago in the Assembly the DUP and Sinn Fein voted against prioritising the Magherafelt bypass for capital.”
In his letter, Mr Wilson said: “It’s time to get the people of Magherafelt the road scheme that they need and that will be important for them as a community.”
The 3km of single carriageway is from the Moneymore Road at Coolshinny to the Castledawson Roundabout.