Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says Irish government funding is about ‘boosting all-island economy’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. PICTURE: NIALL CARSON/PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Irish government’s latest tranche of cross-border funding is aimed at “boosting the all-island economy and improving connections north and south”.

He was speaking in Dublin on Tuesday alongside government partners Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan, as they committed more than €800m (£684.5m) of Shared Island funds to a host of projects, including the long-delayed upgrade of the A5.

Some €600m (£514.5m) has been earmarked for the main Derry-Dublin road, along with €50m (£42.9m) for the redevelopment of Casement Park ahead of Euro 2028.

The ministers additionally pledged €12.5m (£10.7m) for a new hourly rail service between Belfast and Dublin, and up to €54m (£46.2m) for cross-border economic and educational initiatives.

Artists' impression of the new Casement Park stadium in west Belfast
The Irish government has committed €50m (£42.9m) for the redevelopment of Casement Park

There will also be a €10m (£8.5m) investment in a new visitor experience at the Battle of the Boyne site in Co Meath coupled with a fresh commitment to build the Narrow Water bridge linking the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth with south Down.

Mr Varadkar said Stormont’s recent restoration was “hugely important” for people in the north and had “brought renewed hope for what can be achieved through the Good Friday Agreement”.

He said the funding announcement demonstrated the Dublin government’s commitment to working with the new executive and British government to “make the island of Ireland a better place for everyone who calls it home”.

“This funding is about all-island investment, boosting the all-island economy and improving connections north and south, benefiting both jurisdictions and all communities,” he said.

“It is about understanding that, whatever the constitutional future of Ireland brings, investing in people, in quality of life, in opportunity, and for the generations to come, are all of our responsibilities and a common good we can best progress by working together.”

Mr Martin said the announcement marked the “beginning of a new and positive chapter in cross border cooperation”.

“When I established the Shared Island initiative in the Department of the Taoiseach in 2020, I was clear that for it to be successful, it needed to be a whole-of-government priority,” the tánaiste said.

“As ministerial colleagues reach out to and begin visits with their northern colleagues, I am excited about the future of the initiative.”

Minister for Transport Mr Ryan said the funding was a “clear signal that if we are to address climate challenges we are better to work on an all-island basis”.

He said there would be further “collaborative investment” with the new executive.