24 February 2000 Edition

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Gildernew calls for border road opening

BY LAURA FRIEL

Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member Michelle Gildernew is calling on the British government to reopen the only two cross-border roads that remain closed along the Monaghan Tyrone border.

Knockaginney Bridge is about four miles from Caledon on the main Caledon-Aughnacloy road and the Annaghroe Bridge is closer to Caledon. ``On this side of the border land has already been acquired and some improvements have been made on the south of the river at Knockaginney Bridge,'' says Michelle.

The continuing closure of the two roads causes particular difficulty to farmers who own land straggling the border. One farmer has a eight to ten mile trip every time he needs to work his land south of the border.

Despite extensive lobbying, the NIO continue to refuse to complete rebuilding at the two sites on the grounds that the budget allocated for reopening border roads has already been exceeded. ``It's incredible,'' says Michelle.

A recent request to meet British Secretary of State was rejected. ``Peter Mandelson said he was too busy to see us and suggested the matter should be taken up Adam Ingram,'' says Michelle. ``This suggests the underlying issue in the continuing refusal to reopen these two roads is a security agenda rather than financial constraints.''

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