THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Private member’s motion discusses merits of cross-channel tunnel

From the News Letter, May 23, 1966

By Darryl Armitage
Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 6:00 am
Stormont Parliament Buildings. Picture: Pacemaker
Stormont Parliament Buildings. Picture: Pacemaker

An interesting private member’s motion was brought before the Northern Ireland House of Commons on this day in 1966 on the merits of the construction of a cross-channel tunnel between the province and Great Britain, reported the News Letter.

The motion, tabled by North Armagh MP Mrs Dinah McNabb called for the Minister of Commerce to give serious consideration to such a project.

Mrs McNabb had earlier tabled such a motion only to have it sidelined and had since that time questioned whether or not she should proceed with it.

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She said: “We know of the increase in air transport and we welcome it. We have seen the use of hovercraft, particularly in recent months. We know of the improvement in cargo traffic and in drive-on and drive-off craft.”

She added: “We know, and note with pleasure, the improvement in ships that deal mainly with tourists, and we realise that there is a considerable expansion in transport facilities between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

But she remained committed to the venture.

She remarked: “I think that everyone who looks at this will realise that a tunnel or a bridge or an immersed tube, in other words, a fixed channel link would mean an immense step forward. It certainly would be welcomed by all those who suffer from air or sea sickness and it would increase our tourist potential to a degree.”

Concluding her motion Mrs McNabb warned: “If this motion is rejected we will stand condemned by posterity.”

After all, said Mrs McNabb, “this is the space age. . . A few hours ago Europa I was launched from the base at Woomera”.