Bridge between NI and Republic ‘will deepen connections’ as construction work begins

The Narrow Water Bridge linking Northern Ireland and the Republic will be a “symbol of hope”, an Irish minister has said.

Taoiseach Simon Harris will be among guests at the commencement announcement at the site of the long-anticipated Narrow Water Bridge on Tuesday.

When complete, the 195m cable-stayed bridge will connect Cornamucklagh near Omeath, Co Louth, with Narrow Water close to Warrenpoint, Co Down, providing a direct link between the Mourne Mountains and the Cooley Peninsula, where Carlingford Lough meets the Newry River.

It will accommodate motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles.

The bridge will connect the A2 Newry to Warrenpoint dual carriageway with the R173 at Omeath.

It will also open to allow the passage of ships through and on to the Newry Canal.

Irish premier Simon Harris has said that the Narrow Water Bridge project will cost around 106 million euro.

“I think every single cent of it is a really, really positive investment,” Mr Harris said, speaking in Omeath.

“I don’t think any one of us can fully capture the benefits that this is going to bring, the benefits in terms of connectedness, in terms of communities wanting to engage, but also the really practical benefit, and it is the hugely economic benefits that we’re going to see from this in terms of tourism.

“There is so much untapped potential in this region of this island and this bridge is going to play a very important role in (that).”

Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin said the idea that two cross-border communities from different traditions wanting the bridge was “iconic in terms of building bridges between people”.

He said: “It really is that iconic dimension to this project that really has captured my imagination and has inspired me over the years.

“Because this is our life project really in terms of the island of Ireland, in terms of reconciling communities, people going about their normal lives, and then attracting an awful lot more people to this region, which this bridge will attract.

Tanaiste Micheal Martin and Taoiseach Simon Harris in Omeath in Co Louth to announce the start of construction of the Narrow Water Bridge

“It will be an incredible catalyst for generations to come in terms of economics, tourism, biodiversity, greenways, you name it.”

An allocation of more than 102 million euro plus VAT is being provided towards the project from the Irish Government’s Shared Island Fund.

The goal of the infrastructure project is to provide increased tourism and connectivity to the east border region.

It is anticipated that it will help economic development and increase employment levels in the area.

The Irish Government said the bridge will be a “lynchpin” connection for cross-border travel.

Mr Harris, Tanaiste Micheal Martin and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan are scheduled to attend the launch with Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd.

The Taoiseach said: “The mountains meet the sea all along this stretch of stunning coastline and this bridge will be a game-changer for commerce, daily life and tourism in this part of our shared island.”

Mr Martin, who established the Shared Island Unit, said this project “was always front and centre” of his mind.

“This project is a clear physical manifestation of the philosophy underpinning Shared Island,” he said.

“It embodies our ambition for reconciliation, a closer relationship between North and South, and progress.

“Today is the realisation of a vision long shared across this stretch of water, delivering on the desire of both communities to reach out, to connect and to grow together.”

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said: “This bridge will serve not just as a physical infrastructure project but a symbol of community, togetherness and hope.

Mr Noonan added: “The project is already creating new opportunities and deepening connections between communities on both sides of the border.”

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