A bridge from Ireland to Britain

Thu, Oct 15, 2009, 01:00

Madam, – Joe Joyce writes that the enthusiasm of an Irish Times leader writer about a tunnel from Antrim to Scotland was overwrought (Opinion, October 13th). While I thank him for bringing the interesting leader to readers’ attention, I beg to differ on the “overwrought enthusiasm”.

139 years after this leader was written, we in Ireland still depend on oil, air and ferry travel to export goods and services to the UK and to the rest of Europe.

“If the Belfastmen dig their way over to Scotland and annex that dear, old land, they will be fairly entitled to all the advantage of the undersea express” and “Holyhead will become a deserted village. We say nothing of Kingstown”.

“The Belfastmen” could still do this.

An undersea tunnel from Dublin to Holyhead was proposed to the Irish Government in 1997 by Symonds’ engineering firm. A landbridge from Rosslare to Fishguard was proposed by the Heneghan Peng firm at an architectural convention in Venice in 2006. In the case of the latter, a high-speed rail link would enable a journey time of just two hours between the political capitals of London and Dublin, thus ensuring political and cultural ties develop more rapidly between these two capitals than between London and Belfast.

It is a matter of economic, political and social urgency that either a tunnel or a bridge between the Republic of Ireland and Britain be constructed before any plans are developed for a bridge between Stranraer and Galloway.

Northern unionists would be encouraged to depend on the Republic of Ireland’s physical connection with Britain and to see Britain through the prism of Dublin’s relations with London.

The engineering part of the project is feasible. The longterm economic and sociological value of the bridge is obvious. Alas, the political vision would appear absent.

A new bridge opened on the centenary of independence, December 6th, 2022, would be the physical manifestation of a new relationship between the island of Ireland and Britain for the next century. – Yours, etc,

ANDREW LALLY,

Phillinstown,

Trim, Co Meath.