Nicola Sturgeon invited to Northern Ireland to discuss Celtic bridge

Council leaders in Northern Ireland have written to Nicola Sturgeon to discuss proposals for a Celtic bridge connecting to Scotland.

DUP Councillor Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council sent a letter to the Scottish First Minister urging her to visit the coastal town of Larne which he said would be the ideal location for the crossing.

He said a bridge joining Portpatrick and Larne would provide substantial economic benefits to both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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Earlier this year, a leading architect claimed a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland would boost both economies and help address any post-Brexit border issues.

There have been calls to link Scotland and Northern Ireland with a bridge like the Oresund (picture) which links Sweden and Denmark. Pictures: WikiCommons/Scotsman

A Scottish Government spokesperson has said Transport Scotland officials will be speaking to counterparts in Northern Ireland to “explore the potential of improving the vital connections between our two islands”.

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The Mayor wrote: “With excellent transport routes, visitors arriving via Larne can be in Belfast in as little as 30 minutes or arrive directly on the Antrim Coast to explore the beauty of our coastline and Game of Thrones country, attend one of our keynote festivals or relax in one of the many hotels, leisure and golf facilities in the borough.

“Our borough has recently borne witness to the benefits of the A8 upgrade, with P&O Ferries handling its largest volume of freight in five years following its completion. 

Cllr Reid added: “The idea of connecting Larne with Scotland is not a new one.

“There are plans for tunnels dating back to the 1890s and it is often mooted among the communities I represent in recognition of our rich shared history.

“Even the mythical giant Finn McCool recognised the benefits of building a causeway so as to not get his feet wet on the way to Scotland.”

In January a leading Scottish architect argued building a crossing would create a ‘Celtic Powerhouse’.

Alan Dunlop, visiting professor of architecture at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and Liverpool University, claimed a combined road and rail link between Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway and Larne in Nothern Ireland would cost around £20bn. However, any bridge there would have to overcome the obstacle of Beaufort’s Dyke, a 200-metre deep sea trench off the Scottish coast.

In 2015, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, of the DUP, compared the importance of building a fixed crossing over the North Channel of the Irish Sea to the high-speed rail project underway in the south of England.

A version of this story originally appeared on our sister site the Larne Times.