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 Post subject: Press Release 01-02-17
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:53 am 
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Mr Jim Boylan, Chairman of the Narrow Water Bridge Community Network, in welcoming the recent press release from the Department of Infrastructure, says he believes that the Narrow Water Bridge is firmly back on track and the people of the Carlingford Lough area should take heart. “There is a continuing level of scepticism in the community however,” admits Mr Boylan. “And understandably so, facing into another election. It is also hard to forget the heart-breaking and incredulous eleventh-hour failure of the bridge to go ahead in 2013 despite receiving the support of both governments and a funding pledge of over €17 million from Brussels” continued Mr Boylan.

Mr Boylan, who has campaigned for the Narrow Water Bridge for many years, takes hope from the clear and matching commitment from Shane Ross, Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Dublin, which adds significant weight to the press release. Both ministers talk of the potential for the Narrow Water Bridge to be “truly transformative”. Jim Boylan very much agrees, stating that he and his committee are determined, with the spectre of Post Brexit isolation looming, that the opportunity to improve the lot of the people of the Carlingford Lough Area will not be squandered this time around.

“For far too long,” says Mr Boylan, “the area has been an economic twilight zone. Partition in the earlier part of the last century and the decades of chronic under-investment since have created a border backwater. The statistics and economic reviews continue to depress. Newry, Mourne & Down along with Derry & Strabane District Council areas are the worst performers against a range of established economic metrics among the new council areas. Dundalk has a peripherality score equivalent to that of Letterkenny
and despite its unquestionable natural beauty and strategic location on the east coast, the Carlingford Lough area continues to stagnate in terms of tourist development.”

Mr Boylan maintains that the bridge at Narrow Water will provide an opportunity to break this cycle of mediocrity by creating a natural interconnector for the scenic areas of Cooley, Gullion and Mourne and argues strongly for the recently launched Ireland’s Ancient East to be extended into counties Armagh, Down and Antrim. With the growth in active tourism and Dublin Airport, now hitting an incredible 28 million passengers per year on our doorstep, the bridge, said Mr Boylan, will be a game-changer. There is, says Mr Boylan, a critically untapped market especially in Britain and among our near-neighbours on the continent for new and interesting walking and cycling destinations. Fáilte Ireland has recently identified a potential market of 11 million cyclists in Germany alone!

Mr Boylan is very encouraged that both ministers have recognised the value of the local stakeholder input and looks forward to continued positive engagement to ensure that a commitment to build is secured to allow work to start in 2019 as recently indicated by Minister Hazzard.

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