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A bridge too far says Robinson

Northern Ireland's First Minister, Peter Robinson, wants an investigation into the decision to grant European Union funding for a cross-border bridge. Mr. Robinson said the Narrow Water bridge linking counties Down and Louth is not a priority.

In October, the European Union said it would give €17.4 million to fund the single-lane cable bridge, one of the first cross-border bridges to be built in decades.

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Planning permission was granted by authorities on both sides of the border prior to the EU funding being granted.

Louth TD Gerry Adams, and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, both welcomed the decision to build the bridge saying it would be a major boost to tourism and the economy in both counties.

Mr. Robinson said: "We have money available for infrastructure projects and the case was made, very strongly, that these have to be to the infrastructure projects that come out at the top of the list and not what some people were able to choose that weren't even on it."

The DUP leader has also rejected claims by former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie that he wanted money funneled away from North-South infrastructure schemes towards community projects in loyalist areas.

Ms. Ritchie told MPs at Westminster that Mr. Robinson had complained to the Irish government about the matter.

"As far as the working class Protestant areas go, I do want to see them getting more funding because I do think they are getting a thoroughly bad deal at the present time and I will continue to argue for that, Margaret Ritchie or not," Robinson said.

As currently envisaged, the single lane cable Narrow Water bridge will be 660 meters 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.