Narrow Water Bridge: Update

Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 26th April 2021.

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Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 26th April 2021

T6. Ms Ennis asked the Minister for Infrastructure for an update on the Narrow Water bridge project. (AQT 1236/17-22)

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for her question. The Narrow Water bridge project is of huge importance for boosting the local economy. It will also greatly enhance the tourism offering in the region. It is a commitment in New Decade, New Approach, and I recently met both councils in the area to hear their views and to reassure them of my commitment to the project. Work is ongoing on options, and I have given a commitment to visit both councils again to give them a progress report in the summer.

It is very important that we continue to work to advance the project, and it is particularly pertinent in the context of Brexit. I remain committed to working with Minister Eamon Ryan and the Taoiseach's office — I am very mindful of the Shared Island Fund — so that we can move the project forward because people have been waiting a very long time to see it realised.

Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her continued commitment to the bridge. She knows that I never miss an opportunity to raise it with her. As she said, it would be a massive boost to the connectivity around the lough for Counties Down and Louth, for the economy and, of course, for tourism.

When the Minister goes back to meet Louth County Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, will she be in a position to present the options being discussed between her and her counterpart, Minister Ryan? How soon after a final option is settled on does the Minister anticipate that we will see boots on the ground, ground broken and the start of construction of the Narrow Water bridge?

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for her question and for her steadfast commitment to the project. We are due to discuss the Narrow Water bridge at the NSMC transport sectoral meeting, which has been rescheduled for early May. That will give me an opportunity to discuss the project with my ministerial counterpart, Eamon Ryan. I gave a commitment to both councils in the area that, when I go down in the summer, I want to give a progress report. Hopefully, after we have the transport sectoral meeting and the full NSMC meeting in the summer, we will have a much clearer picture of how we will take the project forward.