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Link bridge at Narrow Water needed to improve all Ireland links - Ruane

27 November, 2007

South Down Assembly Member Caitríona Ruane has said that she believes funding for a link bridge at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint will be made available by the Irish Government and that the realisation of this project would provide a major boost for tourism in south Down and north Louth.

Ms Ruane said:

"For many years Sinn Féin has been lobbying for a link bridge which should be built across Carlingford Lough at Narrow Water. It is an issue we have been to the fore in campaigning for. This was discussed at the north-south ministerial council meeting in July. It is Sinn Féin policy to support the bridge and I welcomed that fact that Conor Murphy is the Minister of Development.

"The focus for the North's Executive must be to develop north/south links which are vital to the future development of tourism and industry in south Down.

"We also need to ensure funding is secured for a southern relief road in Newry which is needed for the continuing expansion of the city. Newry has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years and its rejuvenation is a credit to local people, the business community and all of whom have shown real leadership and vision.

"A bridge at Narrow Water would have the potential to help rejuvenate the town of Warrenpoint and the surrounding hinterland and would facilitate tourism by allowing visitors to the area easy access to one of the most scenic areas in Ireland. This view is supported by Interreg who have in the past stated a link bridge connecting County's Down and Louth would have the potential to be a flagship infrastructural project for the Eastern Seaboard.

"Both the Narrow Water Bridge and the southern relief road would greatly improve the local road infrastructure and would help alleviate some of the traffic congestion in Newry City and would speed up the flow of freight traffic to towns and villages on the Eastern seaboard by allowing heavy haulage greater accessibility to Warrenpoint Docks. The many local people who work in Dundalk, Drogheda and Dublin would also benefit from having a more direct route available to them.

"The timeframe for both the link bridge and the relief road may vary but both signature projects must be a priority.

"Sinn Féin has been long term advocates of cross border projects and we using our position as an all-Ireland party to spearhead both these initiatives. The feasibility study underway is funded by the Irish Government. We must also examine the environmental impact study as part of this.

"I also welcome Dermot Ahern's input into this project and the willingness of the Irish Government to provide funding for a bridge which has the potential to rejuvenate counties Down, Armagh and Louth.

"An integrated All-Ireland approach to tourism, the economy and spatial development is the only viable way forward and the many economic benefits for the region should a link bridge at Narrow Water be built make a compelling argument for capital funding to be made available to pay for this project." ENDS

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