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The Irish Government is committed to progressing an all-island greenway network with Carlingford Lough Greenway part of this. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
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The Irish Government have released their National Development Plan 2021-2030, investing a proposed €165Bn throughout the island, with  a substantial sum promised for cross border projects as part of their Shared Island initiative that aims to build a more connected, prosperous and sustainable island, for all communities and traditions that share the island. €3.5Bn has been promised.

Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed the plan and believes enhancing cross-border infrastructure can maximise the economic potential of the island.  

The Sinn Féin Infrastructure Spokesperson said “The commitment from the Irish government to cross-border infrastructure projects as part of their ten-year infrastructure and investment plan is a welcome development. 

“Investment will be needed to deliver key strategic projects like the A5, Narrow Water Bridge, and the Ulster Canal connection.  

 “They were also projects identified as commitments by the Irish government within the New Decade New Approach document.  

“Enhancing the road and transport networks across the island can maximise our economic potential as an island. 

“Sinn Féin will continue to challenge the Irish government to ensure this funding is delivered and these key projects go ahead.”

* Also welcoming the move South Down MLA, Sinead Bradley said: “I want to place on record my sincerest thanks to Án Taoiseach, Michéal Martin and Fianna Fáil for not only including the project in the National Development Plan, but also identifying it as a priority for completion.”

“I would like to encourage all parties involved in the ten-year plan, including the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, the EU and UK Governments, as well as the relevant councils to work together to ensure the steady progress of, this long delayed project. This is a unique opportunity to create huge opportunities for tourism and connectivity for the local area of Carlingford Lough and right across our island.”

Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said "Government is committing significant additional funding and an increased level of ambition for collaborative cross-border investment under the Shared Island initiative. The €500m Shared Island Fund will be doubled out to 2030, and total all-island investment, including through the Shared Island Fund, the Project Ireland 2040 funds, the government’s annual funding for North/South cooperation, and the PEACE PLUS programme delivered with the EU, UK and Northern Ireland Executive, is more than €3.5 billion."

Initiatives:

Narrow Water Bridge

Progress has been made on the Narrow Water Bridge with €3M of funding allocated to progress the bridge project to tender stage and affirmed commitment by the Government to deliver this cross-border link between the Mourne Mountains and Cooley peninsula, providing tourism and connectivity boosts for the east border region.

Rail Network

There has also been a launch of the all-island strategic rail review, commissioned by the Department of Transport to examine how the rail network can improve sustainable connectivity between cities and regions, including the feasibility of high speed options.

Greenway Network

An all island greenway network is also progressing with Carlingford Lough Greenway included. Presently work seems to be stalled on the linkage section between Victoria Lock and Omeath.

Healthcare

Expanding Healthcare co-operation is also seen as a priority including specialist health services on an all-island basis as well as developing all-island ecosystem in digital health.

Connecting people

The Government’s Reconciliation Fund was increased again in 2021, supporting more grants to organisations working to build better relations across traditions in Northern Ireland, between North and South, and Ireland and Britain.

Minorities

The Government will also, in cooperation with the Executive, pay particular attention to the needs of minorities in border counties and explore options, including the establishment of dedicated funding streams, to address gaps in current support.

PEACE PLUS

PEACE PLUS (2021-27) will also make available an indicative €20m for maintaining and forging relationships between citizens across the island including for cooperation around specific shared challenges; and for North South joint events and activities that develop mutual understanding and cement partnership.

Investing in the diverse heritage, arts, culture and sports of the island

The border regions of our shared island are places of rich and diverse cultural traditions, layered history and a unique natural and scenic beauty. The built heritage, parkland and waterways infrastructure resonates an architectural signature of a rich vernacular, social, agricultural and industrial history. We will invest in the unique elements of built and natural heritage of border regions, to better recognise their diverse community and cultural traditions, and support a connected heritage tourism offering. We will do so working in North-South partnership and with local communities, including to develop new cross-border heritage parks, like the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark in Fermanagh and Cavan, and cross-border community parks such as the Riverine Community Park in Strabane and Lifford. We will leverage investment in the Ulster Canal as an artery of connectivity between key points of cultural, community and heritage interest along its route, including the repurposing and rehabilitation of heritage infrastructure.

The Government will also:

  • Continue to grow funding for a wide range of cross-border initiatives in arts, culture, music, and film, including through the Creative Ireland initiative.
  • Engage positively on the further development of sport on the island, including by exploring the potential for new all-island sporting competitions and opportunities to make Ireland-Northern Ireland and Ireland-UK
  • bids for major international sporting events, including the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
  • Protect and develop the Irish language and Ulster Scots traditions across the island through the North South language bodies and funding commitments for the Irish language in Northern Ireland.
* Addition 7pm 5/10/21
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