MICHAEL Russell has said talks should take place between politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea about a bridge or other form of “fixed link” connection between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Brexit Minister, who made clear he was speaking as a constituency MSP on this matter, was addressing the Dail’s upper house joint committee on European Union affairs on a visit to Dublin earlier this week.

Fine Gael senator Neal Richmond spoke about the idea for the bridge, a story broken by The National last month, as he asked for the minister’s thoughts on how to build upon cultural and historic links between the two countries in order to bring mutual economic benefit.

“You mentioned in your remarks the Celtic connections, or the idea of a Celtic arc, being discussed I think quite imaginatively by one of your colleagues, of a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland, and I think’s that well and good and something to aspire to,” Richmond said as he quizzed Russell on how the two countries might co-operate after Brexit.

Russell took the opportunity to respond, pointing out the benefits a fixed link between Scotland and Ireland could bring to his own constituency of Argyll and Bute.

“In terms of the Celtic arc, I think some of the work of John [Webster, head of the Scottish Government in Dublin] and his team are doing and some of the work we are doing together on building businesses and investment is a good foundation for that.”

He added: “I’ve seen many proposals for fixed links. In the 19th century there was a proposal for a railway tunnel between the north of Ireland and Campbeltown.

“I think it’s a great idea, it would open up my constituency and that’s a good headline to see. There is a lot of talking to be done about that but I think it is important that talking starts. I know recent coverage indicates that it should happen.”

Russell is the first Scottish politician to publicly back the idea.

Last month Professor Alan Dunlop, from the school of architecture at Liverpool University, provoked a major international discussion when he told The National a bridge between Scotland and Ireland could create a “Celtic powerhouse”.

Dunlop said a new crossing could be built between Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway and Bangor or Larne in Northern Ireland, boosting the economy of Scotland and that of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

He spoke out after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson raised the possibility of building a bridge over the English Channel to connect England and France. While that idea was swiftly ruled out, the Irish Sea bridge proposal has been given considerable support.

Arlene Foster’s DUP pointed out a feasibility study for such a plan was contained in its 2015 election manifesto, and on the other side of the border, Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign affairs minister, last week said the idea should be considered.

A bridge from Campbeltown to County Antrim would be an alternative route for a crossing.

This route is shorter than the one from Portpatrick to Larne one, at 12 miles.

However, it would require further fixed links across the lochs in Argyll and over the Clyde to shorten the journey from the Central Belt.

Dunlop pointed to the combined suspension rail and road bridge which connects Denmark and Sweden across the Oresund Straight as a model for a potential crossing.

It runs nearly 8km from the Swedish coast to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait.

The crossing is completed by the 4km Drogden Tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager.

It is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe and links the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmo.