NICOLA Sturgeon is being asked to consider commissioning a feasibility study into a bridge connecting Scotland and Ireland after the Irish Government backed the plan.

The move was first proposed by leading architect Professor Alan Dunlop in The National last month after Boris Johnson raised the possibility of a bridge between England and France.

But whereas there seemed little public support for the English Channel bridge, the Ireland-Scotland proposal caught the imagination of people across the two countries. Dunlop said the new structure could help create a “Celtic powerhouse”.

READ MORE: Bridge from Scotland to Ireland could create 'Celtic powerhouse'

Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party enthusiastically backed the proposal and called for a feasibility study into it. Now the Dublin Government have backed it.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign affairs minister, said a bridge linking Northern Ireland to Scotland should be considered, saying Ireland and Britain should be “ambitious for our friendship” and look seriously into infrastructural links.

Speaking at Chatham House in London after a meeting with Johnson, Coveney said that the UK and Ireland must work hard to “nurture this relationship, despite the challenges”.

“Boris Johnson has spoken of a bridge across the English Channel to Europe. Others are talking of a bridge between Larne and Portpatrick in Scotland," he said. "I see no harm in looking at the feasibility of big infrastructural projects to link our islands, if a credible economic case can be made."

The 25-mile bridge was proposed by Dunlop and backed by DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who said it would cost about £20 billion.

Dunlop told us: "Scotland could benefit enormously from a bridge with Ireland – culturally, socially, economically and that’s why I called it the bridge to a Celtic powerhouse.

“Scotland could be an independent country in ten years and therefore any links which make it easier to trade with other countries near us would be welcome.”

He added: “I would urge the First Minister to commission a feasibility study or get together with the Irish Government and UK Government to work on it. The response to the idea of a bridge connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland has been overwhelming, amazing. Positive comments have come from all over the world and politicians shouldn’t ignore that.”

Dunlop, from the school of architecture at Liverpool University, said a new crossing could be either built between Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway, and Bangor or Larne in Northern Ireland or between the Mull of Kintyre and the Torr Head on the Antrim coast.

He said a suspension rail and road bridge like that which connects Denmark and Sweden across the Oresund Strait could be built from Portpatrick to Larne, though warned the Beaufort’s Dyke, a 300 metre deep sea trench, would be a challenge that engineers would have to overcome.

Last night Dunlop said munitions lying in the Beaufort Trench should be addressed whatever route a possible future bridge took.

“The Ministry of Defence need to find out exactly what is at the bottom of the trench so it can be dealt with,” he said.