By Eoin English
The Taoiseach will launch two major infrastructure projects in Cork today worth a combined total of €100m.
Enda Kenny will turn the sod on the €50m regeneration of the landmark Capitol cinema site in Grand Parade this morning.
He will also turn the sod on the long-awaited events centre project earmarked for the former Beamish & Crawford brewery site on South Main St.
Both projects will lead to hundreds of construction jobs and have the potential to rejuvenate the city centre.
It is understood that while final contracts have yet to be signed between event centre builders BAM and events centre operators Live Nation, the talks are in the final stages.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he expects that work could start on site within a month.
Local Cllr Mick Finn welcomed the news.
"While I was reluctant to jump the gun until we see contracts signed, I am delighted to hear from sources close to the project developers that onsite work will begin on the event centre within a month," he said.
"Demolition and some archaeological work will be part of the first phase. This long overdue project is crucial to Cork's future and while the absence of information for 14 months - allowing for the complex process - created a vacuum, news of progress is most welcome.
"With the nearby Nano Nagle Place and Capitol Cinema site well underway, Cork is on a new trajectory in terms of capital development. Credit to all involved."
Mr Kenny, who is accompanied in Cork today by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Mr Coveney, visited a Garda youth diversion project in Togher.
The three will launch Fine Gael's plans for ensuring an effective and efficient justice system at an event at the Maryborough House Hotel at lunchtime.
Mr Kenny will also visit Little Island based software firm Aspira which has announced the creation of 50 new jobs.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Joan Burton is also in Cork this morning with Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch to launch a national community health service plan.