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Bridge project still on cards

A meeting has taken place in Warrenpoint to discuss the progress of the Narrow Water Bridge project. A delegation from the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement travelled to the proposed site on Thursday November 13. The bridge is viewed as a crucial piece of infrastructure for the border region. Committee Chairman Frank Feighan TD said: “There is a long standing unanimous support among Committee Members for the Narrow Water Bridge project. Through our many meetings on the issue we are acutely aware that delivery of this project is fundamentally about people and politics. With 3.1m people living within one hour of the North Louth/ South Down region the tourism potential of such a connection between the Mournes and the Cooleys will no doubt be emphasized.” Margaret Ritchie MP for South Down was keen to play up the economic and infrastructure benefits a completed bridge would bring. She also stressed that  the only element holding back pushing ahead with the project is in practical terms the most important namely the necessary cash. “The bottom line is that we have already got planning permissions from two jurisdictions,” said Mrs Ritchie. “We have licenses the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. The only obstacle is the funding. We recall what happened last year in terms of either over tendering or under pricing. That is where we are  – we have to move on. So we want to convince the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster to ensure that funding can be found for the project. It is the job of everyone to act as persuaders for this particular project and see where funding is available in what is a very challenging fiscal environment for both governments.” The MP was also mindful of the positive impact on tourism that a successful conclusion to the project will bring. “In 2010 there were a massive amount of visitors to this south eastern region,” she said. “If you take what came to Newry and Mourne  – it was over a million. IN the Down district it was 1.5m. So you must be able to galvanise the purchasing potential of those people and ensure that they have other activities to do. Wouldn’t it be much better, much shorter and a more scenic journey to come across Carlingford Lough? It would open up an area that has felt marginalized from its natural hinterland,” she concluded.


Newry Democrat

18th November 2014