Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Minister will engage with locals over Albert Basin access bridge

A bridge that will allow tall ships access to Albert Basin in Newry will be examined as part of the Southern Relief Road proposals.

Sinn Féin MLA Liz Kimmins revealed that Infrastructure Minister, Nicola Mallon has agreed to engage with the local community regarding the issue which has become a bone of contention with campaigners who are keen to maintain access for high vessels to the Albert Basin. They insist the proposed bridge across Newry Canal as part of the Southern Relief Road construction must be an opening bridge or high enough to permit tall vessels to sail under, and are opposed to current plans of a fixed bridge.

Ms Kimmins attended the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee meeting during last week, during which she brought the Minister’s attention to the bridge issue, as well as the need to fully address road safety concerns relating to the A1 Newry to Belfast route.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Kimmins said: “The Minister stated that she recognises the need to prioritise the A1 road and to ensure that as quickly as possible works are undertaken to make the road safer for all. This is welcome and I will continue to seek movement on this project.

“I told the Minister that access to the Albert Basin by vessels is a major cause of concern.  There is a strong lobby from the local community and relevant groups against the proposal of a fixed bridge as this will completely hinder the potential for tourism development of this key area in Newry. 

“Newry Mourne and Down District council are currently developing a city park at the Albert Basin site and it also is the entrance to the Greenway, therefore the waterways and development of these will further enhance this part of the city.

“There is a need to consider having a lifting bridge or raising any bridge crossing the waterway to a height that will enable tall ships and yachts to access the Albert Basin in Newry.

”I am pleased that the Minister has given a commitment to engage with local groups in relation to this issue and listen to the views of the local community on the importance of keeping the Albert Basin and surrounding Locks open.”