Public Affairs

Capital coup for cross-border infrastructure

The Government has committed to unprecedented capital investment in cross-border initiatives, including several major infrastructure projects.

In February 2024, the Government announced funding commitments totalling more than €800 million for projects associated with its Shared Island initiative. This represents the single largest investment in cross-border projects to date.

Then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD used his keynote address at the third annual Shared Island Forum to outline his government’s priorities for the initiative in 2024. “A shared island needs a shared infrastructure, a shared all-island economy, a shared set of dreams about what we can achieve when we work together,” he asserted.
A5 road

Since the upgrade was first announced in 2007, over 50 people have been killed on the A5 road between Aughnacloy on the County Tyrone/County Monaghan border and Derry city.

The €600 million allocated to upgrade the A5 North-West Transport Corridor to dual carriageway marks a restoration of the funding committed to by the Irish Government as per the St Andrews Agreement in 2006 (€468 million) which was subsequently cut to €87 million amid the economic crisis.

This funding will also contribute to A5 linkage upgrades, including N2 Ardee to Castleblayney Road Scheme, the N2 Clontibret to Border Road Scheme in County Monaghan, and the TEN-T Priority Route Improvement Project in County Donegal.

Narrow Water Bridge

Meanwhile, spanning the Newry River – with tension cables emanating from two vertical towers anchoring the bridge deck – planning permission has been secured for the 280m bridge at Narrow Water will connect the A2 in County Down to the R173 in County Louth, enhancing access between the Mourne region and the Cooley Peninsula. Complete with segregated driving, cycling, and pedestrian lanes, the bridge will be capable of opening to allow the passage of vessels between Carlingford Lough and Newry Canal.

While Louth County Council is expected to award the construction contract in the first half of 2024, no figure has been put on the total level of capital investment that will be channelled into the Narrow Water Bridge project from the Shared Island Fund.

Casement Park

Owned and managed by the Gaelic Athletic Association’s Ulster Council, the Casement Park redevelopment project is being pursued in cooperation with the Northern Ireland Executive to deliver the overall funding package.

Aimed at delivering a 30,000-capacity stadium as the home of Ulster and Antrim GAA, the Government’s €500 million contribution to Casement Park was agreed between the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and the GAA and will be “progressed in cooperation with [northern] and UK counterparts”.

Enterprise train

Operating between Belfast and Dublin, the Enterprise rail service currently operates only eight services in each direction per day between Monday and Friday, 10 on a Saturday, and six on a Sunday.

The Government’s €12.5 million investment is aimed at doubling this frequency through the introduction of an hourly service “during peak times” as an “agreed priority for both administrations” which is anticipated to be completed by Q1 2025.

To date, the Government has already allocated a total of €250 million from the Shared Island Fund, including €44.5 million for Ulster University in Derry and €47 million for the Ulster Canal restoration project.

“When I established the Shared Island Initiative in the Department of the Taoiseach in 2020, I was clear that for it to be successful, it needed to be a whole-of-government priority. As ministerial colleagues reach out to and begin visits with their Northern colleagues, I am excited about the future of the initiative,” Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD remarked.

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