Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has urged the government to “end the uncertainty around the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge project” and to “release the €6 million funding from the Dept. of the Taoiseach and the Dept. of Transport that is needed to bring the bridge to completion”.
The Louth TD raised the issue with the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions in the Dáil this morning.
“The concept of bridge building is a metaphor for what we need to do on this island – north and south and within the north between citizens,” said the Sinn Fein President.
“The Narrow Water Bridge proposal has been a project in the making for the last 30 years.
“It will bridge the north and the south and has the support of all the parties in county Louth, south Down and south Armagh.
“At last Friday’s North South Ministerial Council meeting Ministers were supportive of the Narrow Water Bridge project.
“The economic benefits of this infrastructure investment for communities on both sides of the border are considerable.
“At a time when the construction industry desperately needs investment to create real jobs the Narrow Water Bridge is a relatively small investment with significant potential.
The Louth TD went on to say that the project could provide up to 270 jobs in the short term.
“In the longer term this bridge will be a massive economic driver for the region from Slieve Gullion to the Cooley’s and to the Mournes. The fact that it has the support of the Special European Union Programmes Body is evidence of its importance.
“The government has said that it is committed to removing the brakes on an all-island economic relationship and realising the potential of all-island economic co-operation. The Narrow Water Bridge provides it with the opportunity to live up to this commitment. Investing in the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge is investing in the future of that region of this island.”
Mr Adams said that the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge will also lift morale among citizens living in a part of the island that has been adversely impacted by partition and the economic recession.
“The Tánaiste at the weekend acknowledged that it is the border counties that record the highest rates of disadvantage across a number of indicators. Here is a real opportunity to tackle this disadvantage.
“This is a very viable example of north south co-operation and economic recovery as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.
“A government commitment to fund Narrow Water Bridge will be seen as evidence of a determination to ensure an economic dividend out of the peace process and it will help build confidence in that process.”