Narrow Water Bridge being delayed by red tape and incompetence
The Narrow Water Bridge has the potential to open the entire North Louth and South Down region for tourism and economic growth yet I believe it is being delayed by red tape and incompetence.
Unionist Ministers, Sammy Wilson and Danny Kennedy have fallen well behind their Southern counterparts in bringing forward the necessary elements needed for construction to begin.
I am extremely worried that this bridge project is becoming embroiled in departmental red tape as opposed to looking at the benefits that would flow from its construction. The vast majority of finance has been secured from Europe through the SEUPB and the Irish government has stepped up to the mark – yet we still await answers from Danny and Sammy.
Danny Kennedy needs to publish the Bridge Order immediately, while Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has also dragged his feet on the issue. Sammy Wilson needs be reminded that he is Finance Minister for the entire Six Counties and not greater Belfast - and that cross border projects benefit entire communities and release the necessary funding now.
This bridge is a vital economic and strategic infrastructure project for the border region. Its impact is vastly greater than the €18 million needed to construct it. The bridge has cross party and cross border support.
The local chambers of commerce are behind the project as is the vast majority of the local community. Every effort now needs to be made by the Irish government and the Executive to accelerate the construction of this bridge. If they have the political will, construction can start almost immediately, which would also add impetus to the local construction sector.
I am now calling on both Ministers to take their Ministerial pledges seriously and act on behalf of the entire community by giving the necessary go ahead to get this bridge started.