SDLP minister – acting on her own – gives green light to the next stage of Louth-Co Down bridge

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has made what she called “Bridge Orders”, taking the Narrow Water Bridge project towards procurement phase.

By Adam Kula
Saturday, 26th March 2022, 3:02 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th March 2022, 3:04 pm
One proposed image of how the bridge will look
One proposed image of how the bridge will look

Even though there is no-one in charge at the top of the NI Executive, the Executive Committee (Functions) Act, passed in 2020, provided ministers with more powers to take decisions without the need to consult government colleagues.

The Narrow Water Bridge has been mooted for about the last 10 years as a means of shortening the journey to and from Warrenpoint, Rostrevor and the Mournes, and the eastern part of Louth (towns such as Omeath and Carlingford).

At present, someone travelling from Carlingford to Warrenpoint has to drive north along the Newry River into Newry city, then turn around and head back south a couple of miles to Warrenpoint.

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Support for it has largely been split along orange and green lines; nationalists have tended to favour it, unionists tended not to.

It is mentioned in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which said “the Government is also ready to jointly progress consideration of options for the development

of the Narrow Water bridge project at the North-South Ministerial Council”.

In a statement, Mrs Mallon’s department said: “The Irish Government has provided €3 million in funding from the Shared Island Fund to allow Louth County Council as lead project partner to advance the project to procurement.”

And the minister herself was quoted as saying: “Narrow Water Bridge is an ambitious and important project which will link the Mourne Mountains and the Cooley Peninsula to provide multiple tourism and connectivity opportunities for this border area.

“Progressing to the stage of making the Bridge Orders is another big step forward for this long awaited bridge which will deliver many social and economic benefits for the communities in Down and Louth.

“I am fully committed to the Narrow Water Bridge project and I will continue to work in partnership with Louth County Council and the Irish Government to see delivery achieved.”

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin also lent his name to the statement, saying: “I am pleased to see the ongoing progress with the Narrow Water Bridge project supported by funding from the Shared Island Fund.

“The Narrow Water Bridge is a very significant and transformative all-island project. I welcome the strong support for the project North and South which will open up new and exciting opportunities, for the local and wider economy and communities, including for recreation and active travel.”

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