Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced €3m euro in funding from the Shared Island Fund to progress work on the Narrow Water Bridge.
The money will see the project brought to tender stage, based on the current design of the bridge and existing planning permission.
Further funding will be allocated from the Shared Island Fund, once the due diligence process has been completed and the final costs of the project are determined.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said:
“I am delighted that work on the Narrow Water Bridge is now progressing, supported by funding from the Shared Island Fund. This project was first proposed decades ago, and has been a long standing and highly symbolic Government commitment, as reflected in the Stormont House-Fresh Start and New Decade New Approach agreements.
“I am determined that the repeated commitment to build the Narrow Water Bridge will now be delivered upon.
“The bridge will link the Mourne Mountains and Cooley peninsula, providing huge tourism and connectivity boosts in the east border region, and will act as a key enabler for improved cross-border active travel and recreation activities including the development of greenways, walking trails and park amenities.
“The Narrow Water Bridge is a true all-island project, with strong cross-party political support North and South. It will open up new and exciting opportunities, with huge potential for the local and wider economy. Today’s announcement is yet another example of the agility of the Shared Island Fund in unlocking and progressing long standing infrastructure commitments and I welcome the renewed momentum and energy which has been breathed back into this project”.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD added:
“The Narrow Water Bridge has been a Government priority for many years and I am very pleased that through the Shared Island Fund, this project can now begin in earnest.
“Local authorities in the east border region have played a key role in advocating for the Narrow Water Bridge over the past 5 decades, recognising the huge symbolic, economic and social importance of the project to the people living there. Louth County Council has been designated as the lead project promoter, and I know that they, together with their neighbours in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and other stakeholders will work tirelessly to deliver the project over the coming years.”
Welcoming the announcement, Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon MLA said:
“I am delighted to welcome this long-awaited progress on the iconic Narrow Water Bridge. The Narrow Water Bridge brings with it the potential for huge opportunities for tourism and connectivity to the local area of Carlingford Lough and right across our island.
“Today’s announcement of funding will be crucial in moving the project forward and getting delivery on the ground. I will be working closely with An Taoiseach, Minister O’Brien and the two councils to ensure my department plays its part in delivering this key commitment for communities North and South, enhancing connectivity, encouraging active travel and opening up opportunities for our island economy”.
Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin commented:
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of decades of work by Council members, officials and local community groups who recognise the huge benefits the Narrow Water Bridge will bring to the area.
“The bridge has always been a strategic infrastructure priority for the region, and will serve as a structural reminder of the importance of cross-border links. This is a project which is supported cross-party, North and South, and which will rejuvenate and deepen existing cross-border connections. It will broaden the tourism and economic offering in the area and will incorporate wider active travel opportunities, improving the lives of locals and visitors alike. I am delighted that funding from the Shared Island Fund has been secured to bring the project to tender and I look forward to further developments over the coming months”.
South Down SDLP MLA Sinead Bradley expressed sincere thanks to Taoiseach Micheál Martin for holding firm to his word on moving this project through to completion. Under previous leaders and times we have experienced many false dawns, I am thankful the SDLP and Fianna Fail finally hold positions within Government that allows them to actually move on the delivery of this project. It is a long awaited and the people from the South Down / Cooley region will be thankful to see it moving. A bridge at Narrow Water will be a significant game changer for our economic and social prosperity, its difficult not to become excited by it.
• The Narrow Water Bridge has been a longstanding commitment of the Irish Government and is a key commitment in the New Decade New Approach Agreement.
• Planning permission is in place for a distinctive 280m cable stayed bridge, anchored by two towers at either end, for car and cycle traffic. It will connect the A2 Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway with the R173 Omeath and will have the ability to open to allow for passage of ships through and on to the Newry Canal.
• The bridge will provide access to a range of cross border active travel and recreational activities including greenways, mountain bike trails, walking routes and beaches.
• The completion of the due diligence process on the existing design/building standards, existing planning permission and completion of tender will determine the final costs arising.
• It is proposed to now move the project forward in two phases:
- Allocation of €3m in funds from the Shared Island Fund for progressing the Narrow Water Bridge project to tender stage, based on a due diligence of the current design/building standards and live planning permission.
- Allocation of funds from the Shared Island Fund for the construction of the bridge, following determination of the likely final costs arising and Government approval of the successful tender.
• It is proposed to establish a subgroup of the North-South Infrastructure Group, to also include Louth County Council and Newry Mourne and Down District Council, to oversee the development and delivery of the project.
• Subject to all the required processes, construction of the project to begin 2023.