Calls to get bridge project back on track

There have been urgent calls for the Government to intervene to get the narrow Water Bridge Project back on track.

Government representitves from both sides of the border have called for urgent action to restart following the decision to suspend the project after tenders to complete it came in significantly over budget.

The Chair of Louth County Council, Declan Breathnach, welcomed the decision that there would be no public inquiry. However that does not mean that there are no questions to answer. Dundalk Chamber of Commerce said that “The question of how the cost was so badly underestimated needs to be addressed at a later time.”

In County Down representative SDLP member Margart Ritche demanded a meeting with an Taoiseach about it and called on both governments to provide funding for the project.

Seamus Kirk Fianna Fail TD asked Transport Minister Leo Varadker about Government funding for the project and said that issue had been raised with the Taoiseach.

“The economic and social impact of the Narrow Water Bridge will transform communities in Louth and Down. It will be an important link and many years have been spent getting the project this far. Louth County Council, public representatives, ministers and officials have all lobbied strongly to get the funding from the Northern Executive for the project. It is unconscionable that the project would fall now because of a failure of commitment from the government here,” he said.

However some work on the Narrow Water Bridge is continuing as after the revelation last week as Minister for Regional Development (Northern Ireland) Danny Kennedy proceeded with a Bridge Order for the Narrow Water Bridge connecting counties Louth and Down.

Chair of Louth County Council Declan Breathnach said that it was important to continue the statutory approval to cut and that no effort should be spared to keep the project alive.

“There is a very robust and carefully thought out rationale for this project and the case for proceeding is arguably stronger in the present economic environment when the positive spin-offs from it would be all the more welcome”, he said.

He described it as one of the main missing pieces of a jigsaw that could unlock the entire region’s potential.

“None of us can be blind to the economic realities of today but we can’t have a recession in our ambition and vision as well,” he added.

Dundalk Chamber of Commerce offered some solutions early on saying  in a statement last week: “We would ask that the project  not have vat charged on it and the possibility of a Public Private Partnership be examined as a matter of urgency.”

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