'Chronic lack of investment' outside Dublin 'placing our economy' at risk

'Chronic lack of investment' outside Dublin 'placing our economy' at risk
Clodagh Geary, 2019 Conference Project Manager, Jim Snyder, guest speaker and PMI co-founder, Eimear Bourke, EY and Pat Lucey, President of the Ireland Chapter at the event. Picture: Darragh Kane

A "chronic" lack of investment in infrastructure outside Dublin is putting the economy at risk and stalling future projects.

That is according to president of the Irish chapter of the Project Management Institute, Pat Lucey.

Speaking at the business group's annual conference in Cork, Mr Lucey said: "Chronic under-investment in regional infrastructure is placing our economy, and future projects, at risk. There is a huge opportunity for economic growth in Ireland over the next 20 years. However, over-reliance on the Dublin region is jeopardising this growth as it struggles to meet demand."

Mr Lucey said there was "a disproportionate focus" on Dublin that was detrimental to Irish competitiveness internationally, and that the Republic should be the "default location" for firms looking to leave the EU after Brexit.

"With the capital feeling the worst effects of the housing crisis -- rents there are 8.8% higher than just a year ago -- this is negatively impacting desired international investment," he said.

Efficient project management will be needed to ensure the Government delivers on its regional investment pledges under Project Ireland 2040.

Cities outside Dublin should be viable options for international investments, Mr Lucey said.

The conference, which was held outside of Dublin for the first time, also heard calls for the long-awaited National Broadband Plan, and high-speed road and rail links between all Irish major cities, including Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Dublin.

Included in the Government's plan for 2040 are Cork projects such as the M20 motorway between Limerick and Cork, which is expected to cost in the region of €1bn.

It was a u-turn from the previous Government, when then Taoiseach Enda Kenny poured cold water on the idea in 2016, saying it was too costly.

Investment in the Cork-Limerick road was first raised in 1998, but the economic crash of 2008 put paid to the project.

The city's northside is said by business and political leaders to be hamstrung by the lack of a northern ring road.

The eastern half of the northern ring road was included in the €116bn national development plan last year, which will connect the M8 Cork to Dublin motorway with the M20.

Meanwhile, tourism chiefs in Cork have said they will target the French market to boost numbers visiting the region.

Tourism brand for the region, Pure Cork outlined the strategy at an industry day, which said it was teaming with Tourism Ireland to target French visitors.

With regular Cork flights from Paris operated by Aer Lingus and Air France, Pure Cork said France was one of the biggest opportunities for growth, especially from Paris and its surrounds.

The tourism body said it was also targeting regional UK locations outside of London, the northeast of the US, domestic tourists and visitors from Germany.

Southern Europe manager for Tourism Ireland, Monica Mac Laverty said French visitors average more than 10 nights in the Republic.

“There is an extremely strong opportunity to develop tourism from France for the Cork region, especially with direct access from Cork airport, which is key," she said. Head of Visit Cork, Seamus Heaney said tourism currently supports almost 22,500 jobs in Cork.

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