By David Raleigh
The Minister for Finance has told a post budget meeting of business leaders in Limerick that the M20 Cork-Limerick motorway is a national priority for Government.
Minister Paschal Donohoe described the motorway between the Munster counties as “a necessity”, as he moved to allay concerns raised by interested parties at the meeting.
He said the route was part of the government’s commitment to “an integrated plan for the entire country”.
He described the M20 as “the main missing link in our national road network”.
“There's an acknowledgement in government we need to do it…It makes national sense.”
The government has pledged €5m for the planning and tendering phase of the “massive project”.
However, Minister Donohoe declined to comment on a potential start date for the motorway.
“I'm very much aware of the importance for the [tendering] contract. Experience has taught me, that if I begin to put in place construction dates and start dates, in relation to when the project will begin and finish, before it gets planning permission, that it could create difficulties in the planning process.”
“I want to emphasise the government is committed to the building of that project and the competition of the road. We think it's a vital part of our national [development] response, not only to Brexit, but how we realise the potential of our country,” he explained.
Moving to allay further concerns that the government wasn't focused enough on developing the country’s regions outside the capital, he said: “If our response back to the challenges and opportunities that we have is a Dublin response, that will be a national failure for us. We have to have a national response.”
The minister also told the meeting at City Hall, Limerick, the economy was “moving to full employment”.
“I think it's likely that we will move to a situation of full employment, but I'm by no means taking it for granted, given all the different changes that we are managing at the moment. But, I do believe it is very likely that we’ll move into 2018 and we'll see a labour market that is even further improved versus where it is at the moment.”
“I believe better days are ahead. I believe we do have it within our grasp next year, to get to a point potentially for full employment in our country.”