Narrow Water: Bridge plan has 'smell' says DUP's Wilson

The cross-border bridge will stretch from County Down to County Louth The cross-border bridge will stretch from County Down to County Louth

Related Stories

The finance minister has told the Assembly he believes there is "a political smell" about the application to build a bridge at Narrow Water.

Sammy Wilson questioned the speed with which environment minister Alex Attwood granted Article 31 planning permission to the proposal for the bridge between counties Down and Louth.

He called for an investigation into the planning process.

Mr Attwood rejected the minister's comments in an intervention.

However, he was asked to sit down by deputy speaker Roy Beggs, who explained that only one minister was permitted to speak in a debate.

Earlier in the debate, the SDLP's Karen McKevitt had described the proposed bridge as "a genuinely symbolic cross-border project".

Ms McKevitt was proposing her party's motion calling for the finance minister to ensure that the remaining investment required for the bridge was committed "immediately".

'Shiny'

She emphasised the tourism possibilities of the bridge, saying it would allow the Mournes, the Ring of Gullion and the Cooley peninsula to develop into a tourist region like the Ring of Kerry or the Causeway Coast.

The South Down MLA observed that people flying into Dublin airport would be about 60 miles from "our shiny new bridge".

William Irwin of the DUP said there were many other projects more deserving than the bridge.

He said the project "requires greater thought".

Sinn Fein's Chris Hazzard said the bridge proposal had "caught the imagination of the people of south Down and north Louth alike".

Ulster Unionist John McCallister said he had some concerns about the proposal, but added that he would support the motion provided it was not built at the expense of the Newry southern relief road.

Trevor Lunn of Alliance said the Narrow Water bridge was "a terrific scheme" and he backed the motion.

Replying to the debate, Sammy Wilson said it would not be right for him to make a decision on the bridge project before his officials had reported back on its feasibility, and he argued that the SDLP motion should not have been brought to the house.

The motion was carried by 47 votes to 38.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • MouseEscape the rat race

    Burnt out? Meet the workers who took more than a vacation - and changed their lives

Programmes

  • (File photo) A man dressed as Father Christmas with a sleigh and a reindeer Click Watch

    A website which tracks Father Christmas, plus other sites and apps to keep you entertained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.