Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA visited Omagh on Wednesday 24 November 2021 to discuss the key infrastructure priorities in the Fermanagh and Omagh district.

Minister Mallon aided by her department officials met with representatives from the Mid South West (MSW) Region Governance Steering Group, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the President of Omagh Chamber of Commerce to get a first-hand account of the unique challenges in the area which could be addressed by investment in infrastructure.

During the discussion, which was held at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council offices in Omagh, Minister Mallon heard about the Council’s focus on the importance of tackling a number of key infrastructure challenges impacting the economic growth of the district and wider Mid South West Region.

The discussion focused on the importance of working together to improve connectivity both within and to and from the district through strategic transport projects including the A4 Southern Enniskillen Bypass and the A5 Derry to Aughnacloy dual carriageway, in addition to other strategic roads schemes proposed through the Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan and active travel measures.

Members took the opportunity to impress the importance of redeveloping the St Lucia site in Omagh and of the need for engagement with key stakeholders, including the local community and Council, in helping to shape the vision for this hugely significant site.

Other local priorities that formed a significant part of the discussion included the development of blue and green infrastructure including greenways across the district, the need for urgent investment in utilities such as sewerage and wastewater, a flood alleviation scheme for Omagh town centre and the development of a sustainable transport network to support economic growth and overall health, wellbeing and prosperity of those living in the district.

Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon said:

“I was delighted to be back in Fermanagh and Omagh today to meet with representatives from the Mid South West Region Group and to hear about their vision for the region.

“Since becoming Minister I have been clear that tackling regional imbalance has been a priority for me. I recognise prior to my tenure that there has been historic underinvestment in the Omagh and Fermanagh areas and I am working hard to ensure delivery on the ground for people across Fermanagh and Omagh.

“Reaffirming my clear commitment to the Enniskillen Southern bypass to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council representatives, I also outlined my plans to transform Enniskillen town centre by improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and enhancing active travel opportunities for locals and visitors alike. In line with that commitment my Department is currently drawing up a commission to examine how the bypass can unlock sustainable and active travel measures in the town centre. I am very aware this scheme is of significant importance to Enniskillen and I have made clear my commitment to the Council that making road improvements is crucial to tackling regional imbalance, improving the economy and connecting communities and improving road safety.

“Going forward, I want to continue to work in partnership with the council and others to ensure that we can deliver the change people in Fermanagh and Omagh, and right across the North, have long deserved.”

Chair of the Mid South West Region Governance Steering Group, Councillor Paul McLean said:

“We were delighted that Minister Mallon agreed to visit Omagh today so that she could hear first hand the challenges in the area which could be addressed through provision of new enabling infrastructure.

At today’s meeting we were keen to underline the need for targeted investment in strategic infrastructure, bringing transformational change to the area and local communities.

Investment in the Fermanagh and Omagh district and across the Mid South West Region is key to addressing regional imbalances and realising our growth ambitions for the district and beyond. The Minister’s commitment to continuing to work in partnership with Members and the Mid South West partner Councils on the range of issues discussed was warmly welcomed.”

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council; Mid South West region is responsible for delivering a Regional Economic Strategy that focuses on boosting productivity, driving business growth, promoting sectoral strength and creating more and better paid jobs.