€800m Irish government investment: a new era of Dublin-Belfast cooperation


Irish Government coalition leaders, Dec 2022 (cropped), tags: €800m - CC BY-SA

The Irish Government has announced a significant €800m investment package to boost cross-border projects in Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that this represents the largest package of Irish government support for such.

This funding will be allocated to several ventures such as enhancing the A5 highway, renovating Casement Park GAA stadium, and building a bridge between County Down and County Louth (Narrow Water Bridge).

The largest chunk in the budget, €600m, will go towards the proposed upgrade of the A5.

The investment also includes €12.5m that will be utilized to launch a new hourly train connection between Belfast and Dublin.

For Casement Park GAA stadium’s redevelopment, €50m has been apportioned. The improvements will be crucial for its hosting of the matches during the Euro 2028 football tournament.

Though earmarked as the venue for Euro 2028, the stadium’s redevelopment will have to be completed by the summer of 2027 to be rubberstamped as the approved venue. It will surely  provide a significant boost to the west Belfast community.

The Narrow Water Bridge project will connect the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth and the Mourne Mountains in County Down, and will include completion of the Carlingford Greenway scenic route. Connecting these two important regions will open up opportunities for improved transportation, tourism, and economic growth.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin added, “This investment marks the beginning of a new and positive chapter in cross-border cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

A portion of the package (€10m) includes allocations for new visitor experience at the site of the Battle of Boyne in County Meath, as well as commitments to female entrepreneurship and tackling underprivilege in education as part of broader efforts to build a more inclusive society.

Ulster GAA welcomed the news, emphasizing the importance of these projects for sporting facilities and community development.

The Irish Government’s Shared Island initiative has previously allocated €250m to projects including Ulster University and the Ulster Canal restoration.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that the funding allocations represent a significant step forward in their commitment to improving connectivity between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The program aims to strengthen infrastructure, foster economic growth, and bridge social divides, ensuring a more cohesive and prosperous future for all those on the island.

What Comes Next

Construction of the Narrow Water Bridge is expected to begin later in 2024, with completion estimated for 2026.

With today’s funding allocations, the Government is taking a step forward with our Shared Island investment objectives and meeting commitments under the New Decade, New Approach agreements.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan

The new hourly train service connecting Belfast and Dublin, set to begin in Q1 2025, will expand travel choices and improve cross-border accessibility.

Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, urged Executive Ministers to publish delivery plans for key projects following this funding announcement.

Alliance MLA David Honeyford emphasized the importance of Westminster’s contribution in ensuring that Casement Park is ready for Euro 2028.

John Stewart, UUP MLA, called for closer collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic to maximize opportunities and create a stronger economy.

At the upcoming cabinet meeting, the Government is scheduled to talk about its stance on a Seanad private members’ motion dealing with the situation in Palestine.

The Shared Island investment plans come amid broader efforts to revitalize the economy, promote cross-border cooperation, and ensure sustainable development across the island.

The funding announced today shows our commitment to working with the new executive, and with the UK Government, to make the island of Ireland a better place for everyone who calls it home.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

These initiatives will have a transformative impact in the lives of people in Northern Ireland and foster a more integrated society with the Republic.

The collaboration between various stakeholders and government bodies is crucial for ensuring the successful implementation and completion of these projects.

Ultimately, this €800m investment package represents an important step towards a more prosperous and connected future for everyone in the “Emerald Isle”.

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