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Boost for Louth as three major projects included in cross border spending spree



As had been widely speculated ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, the Government has agreed to channel funding through the Shared Island Fund to build the long-awaited Narrow Water Bridge connecting the Cooley Peninsula in Louth to the Mourne Mountains in Down, and to complete the Carlingford Greenway.

Announcing “the largest ever package” of Government funding for cross-border investment, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that “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.

He also told the press conference in Dublin that he believes the contract for the Narrow Water Bridge can be signed as “early as next month”.

“The construction of the landmark Narrow Water Bridge will provide a lynchpin for connectivity and sustainable tourism in the Carlingford Lough region,” Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said.

He described the funding for the Bridge as an “massive investment” and “hugely important”.

Planning permission is already in place for a distinctive 280m cable-stayed bridge, anchored by two towers at either end, with segregated car, cycle and pedestrian lanes. The bridge will connect the A2 Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway with the R173 Omeath and open to allow for passage of boats through and on to the Newry Canal.

A tender process for the main construction works contract for the project was conducted by Louth County Council in 2023 and the Government said that the local authority will now proceed with the final steps in the procurement process and the contracts could be signed by next month.

The Shared Island Fund will also provide a €1.5m contribution for the completion of an outstanding element of the cross-border Carlingford Greenway, a 1.6km boardwalk structure outside Newry. Funding is also being provided by the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and other sections of the Greenway are supported under the INTERREG VA programme.

The news has been welcomed by Louth County Council with Chief Executive Joan Martin commenting ‘this significant funding announcement will now allow Louth County Council bring this long-standing, transformative project to fruition, which will open up new and exciting opportunities by linking the Mourne Mountains and the Cooley Peninsula , with huge potential for the local and wider economies.

“ I wish to acknowledge the support of all the various stakeholders in both the Republic and Northern Ireland in reaching this point, and I look forward to seeing construction commence on this iconic project in the near future “.

Sinn Fein Cllr. Antóin Watters said he was delighted with the news and said it was the culmination of a ‘long number of years’’ hard work.

“This is something that I have kept on the agenda since I first came onto the council eight years ago,” he said.

“I built on the work already done by Cllr. Jim Loughran and former TDs Arthur Morgan and Gerry Adams,” he said, describing the announcements as “the culmination of a long number of years of hard work and it will have a hugely positive impact on the Cooley Peninsula and Mourne areas.

“I am looking forward to the contracts being signed next month and the work starting. This will add to the already impressive greenway and will be a massive boost for tourism and will bring investment to the area’.

In the south of the county, the Government confirmed a major investment in the development a renewed visitor experience for the Battle of the Boyne site as a priority to raise the heritage and tourism profile of the site which has unique historic and community significance on the island. A commitment of €10m from the Shared Island Fund has been made as part of the overall funding package for the project, once finalised

The announcement also provides for the introduction an hourly-frequency rail service on the Dublin-Belfast line, which will double current frequency and significantly enhance sustainable transport connectivity between the two largest cities on the island.

It is also billed as “a catalyst for economic and social connections throughout the Dublin Belfast economic corridor region and across the island.”

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