Irish Republican News · May 3, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Unionist delaying endangers border bridge plan
Unionist delaying endangers border bridge plan

narrowwaterbridge.jpg

Unionists have been accused of delaying and seeking to scupper a plan for a bridge across the neck of Carlingford Lough which would link county Louth in the South and Down in the North.

The proposed bridge at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint in County Down, has long been identified as a tangible cross-border project which could benefit the economies on either side of the lough.

Planning permission has been granted by authorities on both sides of the border, and the European Union has pledged to give [euro]17.4m (#14.7m).

Envisaged is a 660m bridge that would link Warrenpoint to the north and Omeath to the south. The strikingly designed structure can also open to allow boats to access the Newry Canal and the Albert Basin in the city.

Regional Development Minister, Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy has said he is being “cautious” about the plan, while DUP Minister for Finance Sammy Wilson has raised questions about planning procedures, despite approval being granted. Wilson claimed there was a “a political smell” about the project.

The scheme has the backing of An Bord Pleanala and the Dublin government.

Local representatives on both sides have been pushing for a bridge for more than a generation to boost the local economy, especially tourism in the Cooley peninsula and the Mourne mountains, while easing significant traffic congestion in Newry just five miles away.

The SDLP’s Environment minister Alex Attwood said the bridge would be the most significant cross-Border scheme since partition. But he warned Ireland is in danger of losing the rare EU funding.

“Let us be frank. We are at the 11th hour or one minute to midnight. We have run out of road, or run out of bridge,” he said.

“How do we reconcile the fact that while (the EU) opens the door for European funding, we close it? That does not add up politically. More than anything else, it cuts off our nose to spite our face,” he added.

Sinn Fein leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams recently expressed his concerns at the lack of meaningful progress in the project.

“There is a time limited window in which to get this important infrastructural project completed,” he said.

“Narrow Water Bridge is a crucial investment project that can significantly enhance the local economies of communities on both sides of the border.

“Its economic, employment and tourism impact is potentially greater than the €18 million needed to construct it.

“Every effort now needs to be made by the Irish government and the Executive to accelerate the construction of this bridge.”

© 2013 Irish Republican News