Irish Government announces €800million for funding projects to benefit Northern Ireland

The Irish Government has announced €800million for funding projects benefiting Northern Ireland, including €600million towards the proposed upgrade of the A5 road.

The package also includes €50million for the redevelopment of Casement Park GAA stadium in west Belfast.

The Government has also restated its commitment to build the landmark Narrow Water Bridge connecting the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth to the Mourne Mountains in Co Down.

The money released through the coalition’s Shared Island initiative also includes €12.5million to increase the frequency of the Belfast/Dublin rail link to hourly services.

Making the announcement, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The return of the powersharing 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.”

The Irish Government’s Shared Island package includes €10million for a new visitor experience at Battle of the Boyne site in Co Meath and new cross-border co-operation schemes focused on female entrepreneurship and tackling underprivilege in education.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar added the funding represented the largest-ever package of Irish Government support 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,” he said.

“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 €10million 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 Infrastructure John O’Dowd has welcomed confirmation from the Irish government that €600million will be provided for the A5 Western Transport Corridor Scheme.

Minister O’Dowd said: I raised the issue of funding for the A5 with the Taoiseach recently.  I said at the time that I felt we were pushing at an open door and the announcement today confirms that the willingness is there to help get this road built, which is positive and welcome news.

“Too many lives have been cut short or forever changed by serious injury as a result of road traffic collisions on the A5 and too many families are living with the devastating consequences. I have met with grieving families and witnessed their heartache at first hand, which is why getting shovels on the ground is a priority for me.

“Now that we have confirmation that funding is available from the Dublin government, I will work with my officials regarding the Planning Appeals Commission Advisory Report recommendations with a clear intention of delivering this long-awaited project.

“I would appeal to those people who have been behind the persistent legal challenges to this project to set those legal challenges aside and think of what is best for our society as a whole. 

"The A5 is more than just a road. Development of the western transport corridor will not only balance regional infrastructure, it will also improve competitiveness and economic prosperity by improving connectivity and accessibility across the region. Most importantly of all, it will also provide a safer connection along that stretch of road because what we have at the moment has caused heartbreak in too many family homes.”

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