Taoiseach: Cork must succeed if Ireland is to succeed

Taoiseach: Cork must succeed if Ireland is to succeed

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said growing Cork and other regional cities "twice as fast as Dublin" is a priority for Government.

He told 600 guests at Cork Chamber's annual Dublin dinner that for Ireland to succeed, "we need Cork to succeed".

"We want to unlock the potential of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and other regional growth centres to grow twice as fast as Dublin for the first time in generations. Catching up instead of falling further behind," he said.

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Cork will be enabled to do this by investment in transport infrastructure, unlocking development lands close to its core, expanding universities and healthcare facilities, Mr Varadkar added.

We envisage the population of Cork City and suburbs growing by up to 125,000 people over the next twenty years. In keeping with our vision of compact smart growth, half of new city housing will be within the existing Cork City and suburbs footprint.

This requires better healthcare facilities, so a ambulatory elective-only hospital will be built in Cork. Replacement and additional radiation oncology facilities will be provided at Cork University Hospital, as well as CUH paediatric phase 2.

We are also investing in large-scale regeneration projects for the provision of new employment, housing and supporting infrastructure in Cork Docklands - City Docks and Tivoli.

The Taoiseach insisted the Government also had "other ambitious plans for the city", including the long-mooted events centre; transforming Crawford Art Gallery into a fit-for-purpose, state of the art public museum, for Cork City and County and the wider region; a new flood defence; Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage; the €90m redevelopment of Cork Port; and Cork Airport.

Connectivity is vital and the Government wants to link all parts of Ireland to each other, Mr Varadkar said.

"Our ambition is to build an Atlantic Corridor with a high quality road network linking Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo so all roads will no longer lead to Dublin. This will enable our Western seaboard to compete with the East coast on a more level playing field.

"This includes the M20 Cork-Limerick Road; the N8/M25 Dunkettle Interchange; the N22 Ballyvourney Macroom; the N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy; the Northern Relief Road Mallow; the N25 Carraigtwohill to Middleton, and the Cork-Dublin rail line."

He said the BusConnects investment programme will "fundamentally transform Cork’s bus system, so that journeys for passengers by bus will be fast, reliable, punctual, convenient and affordable".

Similarly, Government wants to ensure that regional economic policy promotes the sustainable growth of Cork.

"Many projects have already been earmarked within Cork including a National Food Innovation Hub at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Moorepark, and the expansion of the Tyndall National Institute, building on its successful industry engagement model.

"These investments will ensure that the Research and Development environment in Cork continues to grow. Furthermore, the new €1bn rural and €2bn urban redevelopment and regeneration funds launched under Project Ireland 2040 will be game changers for communities and groups across the country and in the county of Cork," Mr Varadkar added.

Starting this Friday, the Government will be announcing the first successful projects from the Project Ireland 2040 competitive funds, he said.

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