Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said “for Ireland to succeed we need Cork to succeed” and committed to investing in regional cities “twice as fast as Dublin”.
He was speaking at the Cork Chamber Annual Dublin Dinner on Tuesday.
Mr Varadkar said the Government was committed to investing heavily in Cork’s infrastructure and economic and educational development over the next two decades.
“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.”
“Cork will be enabled to do this by investment in transport infrastructure, unlocking development lands close to your core, expanding universities and healthcare facilities.
"We envisage the population of Cork City and suburbs growing by up to 125,000 people over the next 20 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.”
The Taoiseach said that an ambulatory elective-only hospital will be built in Cork and that replacement and extra radiation oncology facilities will be provided at Cork University Hospital, as well as CUH paediatric phase 2.
Mr Varadkar also said that improving connectivity to all parts of Ireland, including Cork, is vital.
“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 Carrigtwohill to Middleton, and the Cork-Dublin rail line,” he said.
The Taoiseach also said the BusConnects investment programme “will fundamentally transform Cork’s bus system”, so journeys for passengers by bus will be “fast, reliable, punctual, convenient and affordable”.