Campaigners for the Narrow Water Bridge have received a timely boost with the previously doomed project receiving renewed political backing on both sides of the border. Members of the Narrow Water Bridge Community Network (NWBCN) were in Dublin last month for the report of the recent publication of the Joint Committee on Jobs Enterprise and Innovation of the houses of the Oireachtas which then identified the need for the multi-million pound project to proceed.
The report which was compiled of over three days of evidence in May and June last year – looked at ways of boosting the all-island economy through cross border trade and infrastructure.
Part of the report under the headline ‘Develop an Integrated All-island Investment Strategy’, the report states: ‘the Narrow Water Bridge Project needs to proceed.’ The report comes weeks after Newry Mourne and Down District Council CEO, Liam Hannaway received correspondence from Ministers on both sides of the border stating their desire again to proceed with the project.
Jim Boylan, Chairman of NWBCN said that he was delighted that the Joint Committee of the Oireachtas had firmly endorsed the need for the bridge at Narrow Water. “The Joint Committee concluded that each jurisdiction in Ireland is attempting to improve its competitive advantage in isolation from one and other and this is to the detriment to both economies,” Mr Boylan said. “The committee also highlighted the peripheral nature of the economy in border areas and recommended an immediate upgrade of communications including road, rail and telecommunication.”
“The building of the bridge at Narrow Water and the A5 upgrade received specific mentions. Mr Boylan said that the bridge at Narrow Water continues to to represent the most basic and critical piece of infrastructure to enhance closer economic cooperation and tourist development for the people of the Carlingford Lough area. He added: “Myself and our committee are extremely encouraged that the Joint Committee supports that view.”
Meanwhile the Republic’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flannagan has responded to Newry Mourne and Down Council CEO Liam Hannaway reaffirming the Irish Government’s commitment to the Narrow Water Bridge Project.
Mr Flannagan was responding to a letter sent to him from Liam Hannaway concerning the proposals to construct the bridge at Narrow Water and asking for a meeting with a Council delegation on the matter. Mr Flannagan’s private secretary replied: “While the Minister is not in a position at this time to meet with a delegation from the Council to discuss the proposal, he has asked me to assure you that the government has indicated on several occasions, including the meeting of the North South Ministerial Council that it remains committed to the concept of the Narrow Water Bridge. This commitment was also confirmed in the Fresh Start agreement in which the government had agreed together with the Northern Ireland Executive to undertake a review of Narrow Water Bridge Project with a view to identifying options for its future development.”
In a separate correspondence to Mr Hannaway on January 22, the private secretary to the Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen confirmed that the Minister would meet with Council officials to discuss the project.
10th February 2016