EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn today opened the European Union funded Peace Bridge in Derry ~ Londonderry alongside; the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD; First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson MLA; deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MP MLA; and Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA.
The third bridge across the River Foyle, the Peace Bridge has been awarded £14,677,823 from the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). This funding represents a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.
The PEACE III Programme (2007 - 2013) supports a number of capital build development projects which tackle the problems associated with divided communities through the creation of new shared spaces that maximise the potential for reconciliation and economic renewal.
Welcoming the completion of the bridge, President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said: “The European Union’s structural funds have actively provided support to the region over the past 16 years, through the PEACE Programme. This financial assistance has helped drive forward thousands of projects and initiatives in support of the peace process. The Peace Bridge is one of the most significant of these projects and symbolises our shared hope for continued peace and improved prosperity for the citizens of Derry ~ Londonderry” .
Officially opening the bridge, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said: “One of the key objectives of the European Union is to bring people together to live in peace, with a common respect both for shared values and for diversity. The European Commission is particularly committed to helping the people of this region as they work towards the goal of lasting peace and prosperity.
“I believe that the Peace Bridge will help further this goal for the people of Derry - Londonderry. It will encourage greater levels of cross-community integration and usher in a new period of peace and reconciliation for the city,” continued the Commissioner.
Commenting on the launch of the bridge, Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said: “The Peace Bridge is the largest capital build project, currently supported by the EU’s PEACE III Programme. It reflects the core principles of the programme which aims to reinforce progress towards a more peaceful and prosperous society. A truly iconic project, the bridge will act as a physical symbol for change, reinforcing long-term community cohesion, peace and reconciliation”.
Outlining the importance of the Peace Bridge, Chairman of Ilex, Sir Roy McNulty, said: “This is truly a historic day. The significance of the Peace Bridge goes far beyond the physical connection of both banks of the River Foyle. As an important building block in our ambitious Regeneration Plan, it will bring communities together in a new shared space, help grow tourism and advance the economic agenda of Derry ~ Londonderry. In time, I believe it will become a symbol of the renaissance of the city”.
The Mayor, Alderman Maurice Devenney said the opening of the Peace Bridge is a significant occasion for everyone in the city. “The Peace Bridge will bring our communities together to help develop tourism, regeneration and good relations. The Peace Bridge reflects the positive way in which our city is moving forward as we prepare to celebrate our unique history, culture and heritage in preparation for the UK City of Culture 2013”.
The contract for the design and construction of the Peace Bridge was awarded to Northern Ireland company, Graham and a high quality design and construction team comprising of Wilkinson Eyre, London (architects), Faber Maunsell, Newcastle (structural engineers) and Rowecord, Wales (steelwork fabrication). Based in Dromore, Co Down, Graham has built some of the most iconic bridges in Ireland, including Foyle Bridge, Belfast Cross Harbour Road and Rail Bridges and the Dargan Bridge in South Dublin. Bridge architects, Wilkinson Eyre, are best known for the design of the iconic Gateshead Millennium Bridge.