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A rendering of what the bridge is expected to look like upon completion Department of the Taoiseach
Bridging the Divide

Construction commences on new bridge linking Republic and NI hoped to be 'game-changer'

The bridge will span 195 metres and accommodate vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

LAST UPDATE | 4 Jun

CONSTRUCTION IS COMMENCING on a long-awaited bridge linking Co Louth with Co Down.

The Narrow Water Bridge is set to connect Cornamucklagh near Omeath in Co Louth with Narrow Water near Warrenpoint in Co Down.

The bridge will span 195 metres and accommodate vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, and will be able to open to allow the passage of ships through and on to the Newry Canal.

Taoiseach Simon Harris, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, as well as Northern Ireland’s Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd, are due to visit the site today.

€102 million euro, plus VAT, has been allocated from the Shared Ireland Fund to go towards the project.

The Taoiseach said that the bridge would be a “game-changer for commerce, daily life and tourism in this part of our shared island”.

“The Shared Island Unit was set up by the coalition for this very reason – to bring about visionary projects for the whole island that had long been sought after but not yet realised,” Harris said.

“I want to pay tribute to the communities and politicians from all parties and none in both Ireland and Northern Ireland who campaigned for a Narrow Water Bridge for decades.”

Speaking in Omeath, he said that he thinks “every single cent” spent will be a “really positive investment”.

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.”

Similarly, the Tánaiste described the project as a “clear physical manifestation of the philosophy underpinning Shared Island”.

He said that the bridge can be delivered “on time and in budget”. 

The bridge’s developer, BAM, is also building the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin, a project that has suffered from delays and spiralling costs for years.

Harris and Martin said there are “frustrations” in Government about the National Children’s Hospital, but both stressed the need for the tendering process to be separate to politics, and said they have confidence in Louth County Council to oversee the bridge project.

Martin said: “There’s set systems for the council to oversee the project.

“(BAM) have used the last three weeks very effectively, in terms of getting started with the dry weather, so I think we can get this project done on time and within budget.”

Harris said: “I think they’re two very separate and distinct projects. I think it is a statement of fact that there is frustration on the part of the Government and on the part of the people of Ireland in relation to some aspects in terms of the completion of a hospital that is now 92% complete.

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,” the Tánaiste added. 

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

Additional reporting by Press Association

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