While Newry benefits from a rail link to Dublin and Belfast our neighbouring city Armagh isn't so lucky but a petition with 10,000 signatures presented to SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley hopes to change all that!

Dominic Bradley MLA with SDLP Councillor Mealla Campbell and campaigner Suzan McComb with the petition.
Dominic Bradley MLA with SDLP Councillor Mealla Campbell and campaigner Suzan McComb with the petition.

The MLA lodged the petition with the Assembly at Stormont this week calling for a rail link to be reopened between Armagh City and Portadown. The petition was co-ordinated by local woman Suzan McComb. 

Mr Bradley explained, 'Today I lodged a petition of 10,000 signatures with the Office of the Speaker from the people of Armagh demanding that a rail link between Armagh and Portadown is re-established. Armagh is a historic city and yet it is the only city in Europe not to have a rail link and we want to see this changed.'

'Despite being a historic city, Armagh has never enjoyed the much needed road and rail infrastructure that it really needs and many believe it has suffered economically because of the lack of that infrastructure.  The last rail link between Portadown and Armagh closed in the 1950's.'

'In January 2013 the Department of Regional Development launched a consultation exercise on the future of the railways across Northern Ireland and this started a very lively debate in the local community in Armagh.  For many years there has always been a desire in the local community to see the railway extended beyond Portadown to Armagh and the community seized the opportunity to make their voices heard.'

The campaign to have the the Portadown to Armagh Rail Link reopened has been led by Armagh woman Suzan McComb. Suzan has spent months gathering signatures on her petition and she explained,

'I was overwhelmed by the support in the local community for the railway.  Many people from Armagh commute to places like Belfast and Dublin on a daily basis for work and want to be able to make their journey on public transport.  Our bus service is completely inadequate, it is no substitute for a rail link.'

'I started of the petition thinking we could get a couple of hundred signatures, but to have almost ten thousand people support the call is a very strong message to our politicians at Stormont.  People see governments across the world invest in rail infrastructure and cannot understand why there has been no such investment here in decades and if we are serious about protecting our environment then what better way to do that than take thousands of cars of our roads by investing in and expanding our rail network.' 

'I am delighted we have lodged this petition at Stormont , at the heart of government in Northern Ireland.  The Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has already signalled his support for railway expansion and has also signalled his support for an extension to Armagh, we want to build on this good will and make this a reality.  Dominic Bradley and local Councillor Mealla Campbell have been instrumental in this campaign and I am delighted Dominic could facilitate this petition at Stormont.'

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