SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams says he remains concerned about the 'lack of meaningful progress' by Northern departments in progressing the administrative work needed to get the Narrow Water bridge building started.
Last week, a number of Sinn Fein and business representatives, including South Down MLA Catriona Ruane and Cllr. Jim Loughran, met with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness about the future of the project.
But the Louth TD expressed his concerns at the lack of meaningful progress by the Departments of Finance and Personnel and Regional development in the North. Mr Adams has recently received letters from each of the two Ministers responsible for the bridge development in which they assure him that 'there is no delay' on their part in progressing the necessary legislation and permissions.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said that his 'officials are aware of the tight timescale associated with the potential funding for the project and will aim to deliver a decision in a timely manner.'
But Mr Adams has restated his worry that there is a risk that the funding from the Special EU Programmes Body provided under INTERREG IV will be lost. Mr Adams said: 'There is a time limited window in which to get this important infrastructural project completed. Narrow Water bridge is a crucial investment project that can significantly enhance the local economies of communities on both sides of the border.
'Its economic, employment and tourism impact is potentially greater than the €18 million needed to construct it.
'Every effort now needs to be made by the Irish government and the Executive to accelerate the construction of this bridge'.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail TD Seamus Kirk said the intervention of Taoiseach Enda Kenny is 'critical' to the bridge's future. Mr Kirk urged the Mr Kenny to make direct contact with the Stormont Executive and Minister Wilson on the issue.
Mr Kirk said: 'I believe the time has now come for Minister Wilson to give the green light and allow this important project to proceed. I have previously raised this matter directly with the Minister and I believe there is progress to be made.
'I would urge the Taoiseach to personally engage in this matter now and make personal contact and assert the government's commitment to the bridge and desire to see its construction proceed as quickly as possible and I believe we can make significant progress this year with good will on both sides'.