Northern Ireland

Minister urged to review Boyne Bridge demolition decision

Billy Dickson has campaigned to save the Boyne Bridge
Billy Dickson has campaigned to save the Boyne Bridge

CAMPAIGNERS have called for a decision to demolish a historic bridge in south Belfast to be reviewed.

The Boyne Bridge has been earmarked for development as part of £208 million Belfast transport hub project, which was approved in 2019.

The location of the river crossing, which is close to the Sandy Row district, dates back hundreds of years.

A report by the Transport Hub Alternative Group and recently sent to infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon, highlights the history and significance of the route.

An original bridge is known to have stood at a crossing on what is now known as the Blackstaff River in 1611.

In 1642 it was replaced by the Great Bridge of Belfast and was later known as the Saltwater Bridge.

The modern Boyne Bridge was constructed in the 1930s and is believed to have incorporated the remains of the previous crossings.

The Boyne Bridge shares close links to the 17th century battle it is named after and King William of Orange is said to have crossed the old bridge in June 1690 on his way to the Boyne.

King James II is also thought to have retreated across the bridge.

Campaigner William Dickson said the bridge as it stands today is "for everyone".

He urged local politicians to support calls for a review of the original planning decision insisting there are other options to demolition.

"If we can only get enough MLAs to convince the minister to have a review," he said.

"If we don't get support of MLAs we are going to lose the Boyne Bridge.

"They are saying there is no other option but for the Boyne Bridge to be demolished and we are saying we don't believe that."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said: “The department can confirm it has received correspondence from the Transport Hub Alternatives Group regarding the Boyne Bridge removal during the development of the Belfast Transport Hub.

"This multi-million pound project will see the transformation of an 8-hectare city centre site, delivering a modern, high quality integrated transport hub to enhance connectivity with bus, coach and rail links across Northern Ireland and our island."

The spokeswoman added that the plans for the hub will not be revisited.

“The department can confirm that the Boyne Bridge is due to be removed during the development of the Belfast Transport Hub.

"The plans and design for the hub were subject to public consultation and due process through the planning application process.

"Planning approval has already been granted by the department on March 29 2019 and the department can confirm there are no plans to revisit the designs and plans for the hub.”