A delegation of Councillors and Senior Officials from Newry Mourne and Down District Council met with the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the Canal Court Hotel, Newry to discuss the Narrow Water Bridge project and the Southern Relief Road.
The meeting held on Wednesday 24 February 2016 was not only of strategic importance for South Down but also neighbouring counties on both sides of the border.
Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Ruane, led the cross-party delegation to discuss the proposed development of the Narrow Water Bridge and the Southern Relief Road. Councillor Ruane said: “The Council supports the proposed development of the Narrow Water Bridge and the Southern Relief Road project and I was delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minster, to discuss both projects.”
The delegation set out for the deputy First Minster the importance of both projects in the wider strategic context. It was highlighted to the deputy First Minster that both projects would have a positive impact on economic development and tourism for the island of Ireland.
Commenting on the significance of the projects, Councillor Ruane added: “Narrow Water Bridge will provide an essential connection between the Cooley Peninsula and the South Down area. This will develop the tourism potential in the area ensuring an effective transport route for tourists from South to North and would be an iconic structure in the Mournes area.
“The Southern Relief Road is essential for the future development of Warrenpoint Port for import and export business. In addition to the economic benefits to be derived through an effective transport route this project would also relieve the environmental issue which exists due to traffic congestion in Newry City.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “I recognise the strategic and local benefits of both projects. The Southern Relief Road is included in the Department for Regional Development’s Forward Work Planning schedule and the development of the Narrow Water Bridge is included in the Fresh Start Agreement.
“The Executive and the Irish Government have agreed to undertake a review of the Narrow Water Bridge project with a view to identifying options for its future development. Senior officials will engage with the Council and key stakeholders when developing the report which will be considered by the North-South Ministerial Council in June 2016.”
The Council Chairperson, Councillor Mickey Ruane thanked the deputy First Minister for the opportunity to discuss the projects and for visiting the Newry, Mourne and Down area.