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£685M committed for all-Ireland investments including roads, bridge and Casement Park | New Civil Engineer



The Irish government will provide €800M (£685M) funding for all-Ireland priorities, including a major new road, a bridge, train services and the redevelopment of Casement Park stadium.

The “unprecedented” investment package has been sparked by the return of the power sharing Executive to Westminster.

The main bulk of this investment will see €600M (£523M) committed for the A5 North-West transport corridor. This will build 85km of dual carriageway from south of Londonderry at New Buildings to the border at Aughnacloy. As well as the funding commitment, the Department of the Taoiseach also stated it will be advancing work on linked road projects this year, including the N2 Clontibret and Donegal Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) upgrades.

As well as funding for the A5 North-West transport corridor, the Department has committed to the construction of Narrow Water Bridge linking Mourne Mountains with Cooley Peninsula, across the top of Carlingford Lough where it meets the Newry River. The bridge will connect the A2 near Warrenpoint, county Down to the R173 near Omeath, county Louth at Narrow Water, crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Planning permission is in place for a 280m cable-stayed bridge, anchored by two towers at either end, with segregated car, cycle and pedestrian lanes to be constructed.

A tender process for the main construction works contract for the project was conducted by Louth County Council in 2023. It will proceed with the final steps in the procurement process and expect to award the contract to the successful bidder in the first half of this year. The bridge was estimated to cost €60M (£51M) in 2022.

€12.5M (£10.7M) funding will also go towards establishing a new hourly rail service between Dublin and Belfast. This will be match funded by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The introduction of an hourly-frequency rail service on the Dublin-Belfast line is an agreed priority for both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland administrations. An hourly service will double current frequency and significantly enhance sustainable transport connectivity between the two largest cities on the island.

A further €50M (£42.8M) will be used for the redevelopment of Casement Park in Belfast to create a high-quality sports stadium for the Euro 2028 football tournament.

In November, it was revealed the troubled project to redevelop the derelict Casement Park stadium in time for Euro 2028 had hit another setback after the construction contract for the project was torn up. Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) said it could no longer proceed with the existing main works agreement for the arena due to public procurement rules.

The project promoter signed a deal with Draperstown-headquartered Heron Bros and Home Counties contractor Buckingham Group in 2013 to redevelop the derelict stadium into an all-seater modern arena. However, a long planning battle meant consent was only granted in July 2021, with a legal challenge to that decision taking almost a further year to overcome. Additionally, Buckingham Group went into administration last year.

Funding for Casement Park will be provided through the Shared Island Fund.

Other investments in the package will see a renewed visitor experience at Battle of the Boyne site and new cross-border cooperation schemes on female entrepreneurship in enterprise and tackling underprivilege in education, among others.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The return of the power-sharing Executive is hugely important for the people of Northern Ireland and has brought renewed hope for what can be achieved through the Good Friday Agreement. The funding announced today shows our commitment to working with the new Executive, and with the UK government, to make the island of Ireland a better place for everyone who calls it home.

“At approximately €1bn, it is the largest ever package of government funding for cross-border investments. Construction of the new A5 could start later this year which will bring road connectivity to the North-West on a par with other parts of the island. The redevelopment of Casement Park stadium in Belfast will help maximise the benefit for Northern Ireland of hosting games in the Uefa Euro 2028 championship which is a major East-West project.

“We also agreed today a major regeneration of the Battle of the Boyne site, including an allocation of €10M from the Shared Island Fund. Investment in an hourly service on the Enterprise will greatly assist the development of business and person to person links between Dublin and Belfast as well as all the towns on the way.

“This funding is about all-island investment, boosting the all-island economy and improving connections North and South, benefiting both jurisdictions and all communities. It is about understanding that, whatever the constitutional future of Ireland brings, investing in people, in quality of life, in opportunity, and for the generations to come, are all of our responsibilities and a common good we can best progress by working together.”

Minister for transport for Ireland Eamon Ryan said: “With today’s funding allocations, the Government is taking a step forward with our Shared Island investment objectives and meeting commitments under the New Decade, New Approach agreements. It is a clear signal that if we are to address climate challenges we are better to work on an all-island basis. New funding for an hourly-frequency rail service between the two largest cities on the island will significantly improve public transport connectivity along the Dublin-Belfast economic corridor and is in keeping with the vision of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review.

“The government is also providing funding to complete the Carlingford Greenway, a flagship cross-border active travel project. Other Shared Island programmes on Community Climate Action and Electric Vehicle charging point installation will get confirmation of grant awards in the coming months.”

“We will work to progress other collaborative investment with the new Executive, including further investment in sustainable transport and the green energy transition, so that together we provide for a sustainable future across the island of Ireland.”

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