Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Minister for being present to take this very important Topical Issue matter relating to the cross-Border infrastructural projects, the Narrow Water bridge and the A5 motorway.
On foot of last Thursday's UK election, it is clear that Brexit will happen in some form and that is key to the timing of Deputy Brendan Smith and me raising this matter. A commitment has also been given that in any withdrawal agreement the North of Ireland would be accorded some form of special status. More importantly, the programme for Government made a commitment that the Narrow Water bridge and the A5 motorway would be supported and encouraged.
The Narrow Water bridge will be an important economic stimulus for south Down and County Louth in the context of job creation, investment and tourism opportunities. We need to work with the new UK Government and alongside the EU to create a scheme for funding this important item of infrastructure. The Narrow Water bridge project has been 40 years growing and we all know the difficulties it experienced in the last possible round of funding. A cursory glance at the infrastructure along the Border, leaving aside the A1 and the Belfast-Dublin train line, shows that, believe it or not, we had much better connectivity in the 1950s and 1960s. All one has to do is look at the train tracks that were lifted from Dundalk, Monaghan, Enniskillen, Bundoran, Derry and Sligo.
My colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith, will deal with the A5. We are aware that in recent years almost €17.4 million was offered in respect of this project and that the contract came in at more than €12 million in excess. I want to see this project being delivered as part of a commitment to the all-Ireland economy and to the people of this island, North and South.