‘Joint stewardship and financial sponsorship of Narrow Water Bridge project now required’ – Ritchie
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has spoken of the need to find an urgent solution in respect of the Narrow Water Bridge project.
Ritchie told Newry Times, “Following the decision of the Special European Union Programmes Body on Friday afternoon to withdraw the letter of offer of funding for the Narrow Water Bridge project because no indications had been provided on how the shortfall in monies could be met, there is now a compelling need for the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to jointly champion and financially sponsor this North/South project.
“So far, neither government have publicly indicated if they were prepared to jointly provide the shortfall in funding.
“However, I understand that at the recent meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council on Friday 8th November ministers (North and South) expressed their continuing support for the concept of the Narrow Water Bridge, and asked for an urgent analysis of the issues involved, with the priority being not to lose the EU funding involved,” she revealed.
“According to an answer to a written question in the Dail on the 14th November from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and An Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, Ministers stated that they were resolved to continue to work closely and constructively on all of these issues with their Northern colleagues.
“In light of this commitment, it is surprising that the SEUPB was allowed to make the statement of withdrawal of funding on Friday afternoon.
“Nevertheless, there is now a need for clear evidence of this close collaboration to be demonstrated in a very pragmatic and dedicated way through joint inter-governmental stewardship, management and financial sponsorship of the Narrow Water Bridge project,” the SDLP MP insisted.
“That is what the community of South Down and County Louth demand and deserve after their ongoing investment of effort and dedicated commitment and support in bringing forward this project.
“In view of this Parliamentary commitment, there is now a compelling imperative for both the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to step in and lead on this important North/South project – Narrow Water Bridge to ensure the future economic development of the Carlingford Lough region.
“A joint consensus for a political solution to be found to this situation must be an imperative. That solution has to come from both governments on the island of Ireland leading the development of this Narrow Water Bridge project which will be an economic catalyst for the communities in the southern part of South Down and in County Louth providing commercial and tourist investment opportunities for all the people in that area.
Ritchie added, “That joint inter-governmental action needs to happen this week, and I have already asked both governments to do just that.”
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