Taoiseach promises to ‘look into it’ just as the eleventh hour passes on Narrow Water bridge…

So the EU money is gone, withdrawn as Wesley Johnston notes on the grounds “that the project’s instigators (Louth County Council) have not been able to secure sufficient funding to complete it in time for the deadline of June 2015”.

Locally Paul Malone of the Newry Times seems fairly sanguine about a project that’s been mouldering in the local imagination for forty years…

The Interreg IVA fund pulled out in the end because of a shortfall of just £5m, which arises from Louth County Council’s failure to account in its initial estimates (around £18 million) for what look like some necessary technical additions to the bridge to ensure its stability in tidal waters.

That shortfall now (minus the European money) sits at a, pardon the pun, ‘unbridgeable’ £20 million.

So for want of £5 million a shovel ready cross border bridge in an area now feeling the pinch on both side was lost. Sammy Wilson stumped £2,691,880, but with the caveat that he would not stump up for project overruns.

Louth County Council had vouched £781,962. The taoiseach all the way along it seems kept his hands firmly in his pockets.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, whose party laid out a National Development Plan (in better days it must be said) which allegedly included €14 million for the bridge project, laid the blame firmly at the door of Enda Kenny:

Europe has withdrawn its funding because the Government has refused to step up to the plate in time and play its part in making up the shortfall for the project. Not only did the Government refuse to put forward additional funding, it also refused to actively engage with the Northern Executive to find a way forward.

There’s that yawning gap again… That said, this project has looked dead before and come back to life again… In response to a question from Gerry Adams last week, Kenny did hold out some hope that something could be pulled out of the fire

But he will be depending on some flexibility from a fund that looks like it won’t be around in future…

For more detail read Wesley Johnston’s excellent page on the bridge

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