The husband and wife team behind one of Cork’s most successful businesses in modern times have been honoured at Cork Chamber’s annual Dublin dinner, which also heard calls for a high-speed rail between the cities.
Dan and Linda Kiely of Voxpro were honoured with the Outstanding Achievement in Business award, having begun life above a pub in Cork City 20 years ago, before recently selling to Canadian giant Telus International for an estimated €150m.
Voxpro has grown from a six-employee team to a powerhouse employing almost 3,000 in Cork and Dublin, California and Georgia in the US, Bucharest, Romania, and Manila, Philippines.
The Dublin dinner saw more than 600 from across the two regions hear Cork Chamber president Bill O’Connell call for a high-speed rail link between Cork and Dublin.
“We believe that Cork and the southern region are to Ireland what Manchester and the northern powerhouse are to the UK,” he said, before calling for investment in a “game-changing” one-hour train journey between Cork and Dublin.
Mr O’Connell said regional ambition had not gone far enough in the corridors of power, pointing to the initial Government 2040 paper which set out how growth should be promoted outside of Dublin.
He said regional ambition set out by Government was to alleviate pressures in the greater Dublin area and to create more opportunities elsewhere. “Against this objective, Cork Chamber does not consider the draft growth targets for cities other than Dublin to be ambitious enough,” said Mr O’Connell.
“With the current proposed figures, existing economic imbalance across Ireland will perpetuate, which has a real risk of threatening the attractiveness of our country for future investment and jobs growth.”
Mr O’Connell said restrictions on building heights has to be examined in light of the homeless and rental accommodation crises.
“If the high-density, vibrant cities of Ireland 2040 are to become a reality we must quicken our pace and grow up rather than out. We call on the Government to actively stimulate brownfield development which is key to the vision of sustainable high-density urban growth, yet all but absent in its development,” he said.
Mr O’Connell identified Cork’s Docklands was identified as an area with “unique” potential in the city by Mr O’Connell. He said the 220-hectare land possessed “unique” potential, not only in an Irish but an international context, “Its development will prove the vision of Ireland 2040 and showcase the collaboration between Government and industry to make Ireland and Cork the most attractive location to live, set up, and invest,” he said.