After many false dawns and numerous setbacks it looks like the long mooted Narrow Water Bridge project will finally get the green light thanks to a €3m funding boost from the government.
Yesterday morning An Taoiseach Michael Martin announced €3m in funding for the cross-border Narrow Water Bridge, which will link the Mourne mountains area with the Cooley peninsula.
The money will come from the Shared Island Fund and will see the project brought to tender stage. Further funding will be allocated once the due diligence process has been completed and all final costs are determined.
The bridge has long been championed by politicians north and south as a huge tourism boost for the local region as well as being a symbol for uniting communities around the Lough. The 280-metre cable-stayed bridge when completed will cross the picturesque lough between Omeath in Co Louth and Narrow Water Castle near Warrenpoint, Co Down.
Planning permission was originally granted back in 2012, with funding secured from the European Union and governments on both sides of the border.
However, it soon emerged that costs for the bridge had been severely underestimated resulting in the plans being shelved. At the time Louth County Council stated that the €18m originally budgeted for the bridge was at least €12m shy of what was needed. When that shortfall could not be made up the EU withdrew €17.4m worth of funding.
Local politicians were understandably delighted with this latest breakthrough with Fianna Fail senator Erin McGreehan describing the bridge as a ‘symbol of the future for this island’
“I am absolutely delighted that this project is going to the next stage. There have been many people, going back decades, involved in getting the project to this point.
“This project is far more than a bridge, it is a symbol for Ireland’s future. A symbol to draw a line on the past by respecting it, acknowledging that past but it is also about building bridges, forging relationships, and moving on to the next 100 years of this island’s story. The people either side of Carlingford Lough are so close – culturally, geographically and yet we have been divided.
“This bridge is a symbol of the future and I am so proud to be the Fianna Fáil representative in this area bringing this project to the next stage. I want to thank the Louth County Council Chief Executive, Joan Martin, for her commitment to this project. Joan Martin has gone out on a limb on several occasions to keep this project alive. I also want to thank Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure, Nicola Mallon MLA, who has been instrumental in this announcement also.”
Sinn Fein TD Ruairí O’Murchú while welcoming the news said the progress made on the bridge, and the latest announcement, was ‘very welcome’ but cautioned that there can be ‘no more false dawns in the progress towards getting this vital piece of community, business and tourism infrastructure built’.
“I very much welcome the announcement of funding to bring it the project through to tender stage, based on the current designs. It is a step forward and will be welcomed by those who live in the North Louth and South Down areas.
‘But we need detail and timelines on this to ensure that it continues to progress.
Meanwhile Fine Gael senator said that the bridge would play a leading role in Louth’s economic fightback post COVID.
“As we emerge from Covid 19, Tourism will play a leading role in Louth’s economic comeback. The Narrow Water Bridge will prove to be a critical piece of infrastructure that linking up the Lough and complementing Carlingford Ferry.
“This will open a substantial tourism gateway for north Louth. The expanded Carlingford-Omeath Greenway, Carlingford Ferry, the Narrow Water bridge, are all strands that when combined will create an extremely attractive tourist destination,” stated the Fine Gael senator.