Renewed confidence Riverine Project will finally go ahead

By Paul McElwee

THERE is renewed confidence that the long-awaited Riverine project, designed to better connect Strabane and Lifford, will go ahead after planning permission for the Strabane section was granted last week.

The application was rubber-stamped shortly after An Bord Pleanála confirmed permission for the Donegal section, for the cross-border project which would see both Strabane and Lifford revamped with a cross-community park and greenway, a family fun space, a pavilion building for cultural events a cycle lane and a new pedestrian bridge linking the two towns.


The main sticking point now is that funding for the project is yet to be secured.

The project was deemed ‘dead in the water’ only a few years ago after Peace IV funding totalling almost nine million euros was granted.

However that fell through after An Bord Pleanála failed to secure planning permission in time and the funding deadline passed.

Lately though, a new funding application was submitted by Donegal County Council, the lead partner in the project, to SEPUB under their Peace Plus Programme.

The application is believed to be in the region of ten million euros. A decision is expected on the funding in May.

Speaking this week, Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher commented, “I’m positive that we are now in a position where we’ll see the Riverine Project finally get underway, transforming the landscape between Strabane and Lifford.

“I get it that some people are asking, quite fairly, if it was premature to obtain planning permission before making sure we had the money to go ahead.


“We had access funding secured a few years ago and that ran out because planning permission had not been granted. This way, when we do get funding and I’m confident that we will be in a position to hit the ground running, seeking tenders for the work.

“Having the permission in place only strengthens our position in seeking the relevant funding; it shows that all our due diligence has been done, and that we are ready. I understand that there is much scepticism in the town because we’ve been in this position before, so close yet so far with numerous false dawns ever since the project was announced almost ten years ago. But there’s no reason to think that the Riverine will not become a reality this time around, rejuvenating Strabane and Lifford.”

The man who proposed rubber-stamping the planning permission, Deputy Mayor and SDLP councillor Jason Barr added, “The Riverine

Project has strong support in both Strabane and Lifford and I was proud to propose we approve the application.

“I’m pleased it got unanimous support at the committee. This application will strengthen the link between Strabane and Lifford, create a new footbridge and new accessible open space.”

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