Narrow water

The bridge will be built

The Narrow Water bridge linking Northern Ireland and the Republic has been given the go ahead after securing €17.4 million from the European Union.

Earlier this month the planning authorities in both the North and the South gave permission for the bridge. The single lane cable bridge will be 660 metrers long and could be open as early as 2015. It is close to the scene where the IRA killed 18 British soldiers in August, 1979. The decision has been welcomed by political representatives in both counties Down and Louth who believe the bridge will open up the scenic area to tourism and jobs. A delighted MP for South Down, the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie, said the Narrow Water Bridge will link the two communities of South Down and County Louth and called it a "community bridge."

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"The requirement for his facility is deeply rooted in the local community," she said. "The community led and campaigned for the bridge. They have now achieved their goal.

"This bridge will be the first to link North and South. It will not only be a historic and iconic bridge, but in this time of economic recession it will be the catalyst that is required for South Down and County Louth. It will be an important economic driver for job creation and tourist development. "Naturally I look forward to the completion of this bridge and its use by the local community and by visitors throughout the island and further afield. Undoubtedly this bridge will open up access to the Mournes and St. Patrick's Country for many visitors."

Across the river in County Louth, the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, who is also a TD for the county, welcomed the news. "This is a very welcome decision. It clears the way for the construction of the Narrow Water Bridge which is a vital economic and strategic infrastructure project for the border region," he said.

"I want to commend all of those, but especially the officials from Louth County Council, and local Louth councilors, as well as Caitriona Ruane MLA, who have worked tirelessly in recent years to make this bridge a reality. "The Narrow Water Bridge will cost almost €18 million but its economic and social impact will be significantly greater. It will provide a huge boost to the local economy, create new jobs and spur economic growth in this region. "Every effort now needs to be made by the Irish government and the Executive to expedite the construction of this bridge," Adams said.