An artist’s impression of the Narrow Water Bridge
The last remaining hopes of rescuing the Narrow Water Bridge project appear to be dead in the water after the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe confirmed in a Parliamentary Question that the construction of the bridge will not now be proceeding as planned.
The bridge – which was to link Omeath and Warrenpoint – looked to be going ahead last summer until Louth County Council were forced to pull the plug on it due to estimates for its constructions coming in far greater than they had estimated.
That led to EU funding being withdrawn and while several attempts have been made to salvage the project, it now looks doomed.
Commenting on the matter, Fianna Fáil TD for Louth, Seamus Kirk, expressed his disappointment at the government’s decision not to proceed with the bridge.
He said: “I am extremely disappointed that the Government has decided to shelve this project, which was seen by many as a further enhancement of cross border relations. The project not only represented a new era in north-south affairs, it would have had a radical impact on tourism in the region.
“The Government has refused to allocate additional funding to allow the project to proceed, a decision which I believe is extremely short-sighted. The construction phase alone would’ve created jobs and brought much needed investment to the local economies on both sides of the border. It would also create a new tourist attraction in an area that has been neglected for decades.
“Tourism in the Cooley Peninsula and Mourne Mountains, which is a beautiful part of the country, is severely under-developed, primarily because the connection between the two areas is completely inadequate. The Narrow Water Bridge would’ve filled that gap and given a major economic boost to the region. The loss of this project is extremely unfortunate and is a lost opportunity. It has been extremely challenging to encourage investment into this area, and the level of public money spent there remains at relatively low levels.
“Fianna Fáil has been a consistent advocate of this project and after so much progress was made in terms of planning and securing funding from Europe, it is a tragedy that it is being scuppered at this advanced stage.
“I believe more of an effort should have been made by the Minister and his Department to secure a suitable package, which could have been used to draw down the EU funding. This current project has been in the pipeline for over 5 years, and unfortunately it now appears as if the plan will be scrapped because of the Government’s refusal to work with the Northern Ireland Executive to provide additional funding. This is a major blow for the residents who were so supportive of the project, for cross border relations and for the local economy,” said Deputy Kirk.