Narrow Water Bridge Project: Shared Island Unit

Progress on the construction Narrow Water Bridge will be determined by the Taoiseach’s ‘Shared Island Unit’ that has a half a billion euro to spend over the next five years, Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú has said.

As part of the recent budget announcements, it was revealed that the Taoiseach’s ‘Shared Island Unit’ would receive €100 million a year in funding for the next half a decade.

Arising from the announcement, the Dundalk TD submitted a question for response by Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Wednesday.

Mr Martin said a number of projects are expected to progress because of the new, ring-fenced cash for the ‘Shared Island Unit’. The Taoiseach added that the unit would give a greater degree of certainty to projects that previously had got lost between two stools when handed over to government departments on both sides of the border.

The Sinn Féin TD said Mr Martin had included the Narrow Water Bridge in a list of projects he wants to see progression on, as well as the A5 motorway, and this is ‘welcome news’.

He said: ‘The Taoiseach spoke about the difficulty experienced by the State over the years regarding many projects it agreed to.

‘He talked about cross-border projects, such as the Narrow Water bridge and the A5, and promises that were made. When the projects were left with individual departments, they found reasons, probably genuinely good ones, not to proceed with them. They found other things to do.

‘While I might have difficulties with some parts of the terms of reference of the Shared Island Unit, I believe the unit is necessary if we are to complete some of the cross-border projects.

‘We have all heard tell in the past while of possible high-speed rail, particularly on a cross-border basis. This needs to happen.

‘Many commuters in the likes of Dundalk use the Enterprise train, which runs from Dublin to Belfast and back. The problem is that, in many cases, it only runs every two hours.

‘We need to have a greater level of connectivity and ensure more trips so it will be more possible to use the rail network for commuting. The price can also be a dissuader. We need to examine this. We have to give people opportunities.’

North Louth Councillor Antóin Watters agreed that it was welcome news and repeated that the Bridge “will be good for tourism in the area.”

Antóin Watters: Questions to be answered on Narrow Water Bridge

Antoin WattersSinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called on the Chief Executive of Louth County Council to push ahead with the Narrow Water Bridge project given the amount of money that has been spent on consultants.

Reports are that €1.3 million was paid out to consultants before the project was shelved and the offer of EU funding was withdrawn due to it not being drawn down in time.

Antóin Watters, Councillor for the Dundalk-Carlingford/Omeath area said “There are questions that need to be addressed. Councillors were not fully informed as to the cost of consultants or money paid out. On top of the €1.3 million paid to consultants, there was a further €304,000 paid to ‘the other side’ when a dispute arose. What was the nature of this dispute and why did it cost so much?

Cllr Watters continued “we had hoped to see this bridge from Omeath to Warrenpoint completed in 2015 and it would have been a tremendous boost for tourism in the area, but here we are in 2017, the project has been shelved and we are nearly €2million in the red and a shovel hasn’t even turned the first sod.”

“Given that so much has already been spent on the project and given the importance of the bridge to the tourism of the Cooley peninsula, I, and my party are calling on Louth County Council to progress with it and not just write it off along with the €2million.”

Joint Narrow Water Bridge / Southern Relief Road Proposal merits investigation – Adams

Gerry Adams SmilingSinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams has written to the Transport Minister, Pascal Donohoe TD, and Department of Regional Development Minister in the Executive, Michelle McIlveen MLA, seeking further information on a proposal to amalgamate the Narrow Water Bridge Project and the Newry City Southern Relief Road Scheme.

Gerry Adams said,

“The media have reported that the Assembly Executive and the Government have been furnished with a proposal which seeks to incorporate the proposed Southern Relief Road in Newry and the Narrow Water Bridge project.

“Sinn Féin has long championed the Narrow Water Bridge Project and we successfully ensured its inclusion in the November 2015 ‘Fresh Start’ document in the North.

“In Fresh Start the Irish Government states its commitment to the project and both the Irish Government and the Executive commit to reviewing the project with a view to identifying options for its future development, for consideration by the North South Ministerial Council in June 2016.

“I have written to Pascal Donohoe TD and Michelle McIlveen MLA to request an update on the Narrow Water Bridge project and this most recent proposal to incorporate Newry’s Southern Relief Road Scheme.”