Joe O’Brien, director of the southern region of the CIF, expressed his dismay at the report in yesterday’s Irish Examiner that the Cork Docklands project might have to wait another 12 months before any tax incentives are put in place to help fund the development.
He could only look with dismay at the statement by junior minister Noel Ahern to the Dáil last week that much needed to be done locally before the funding could be authorised.
He was further taken aback because he had been given to understand “from those close to the project” that funding for early stage site preparation had been cleared at government level to allow work to start at the earliest opportunity.
He was calling on the government to “introduce a second Finance Bill without delay” to ensure that the project can proceed to the next phase.
In mid-2007, the EU cleared the project for support and “valuable time has been lost since then”, he said.
It may take time for tax incentive schemes to be cleared at EU level, he said.
But crucial preparatory work needed, such as draining of wet land, can and must be funded in advance of tax or other financial incentives that require EU clearance being put in place, he said.
It was in the Government’s power to put that funding in place, he said.
At CIF’s Cork branch AGM last night he said.
“It is extremely disappointing to note that there was no mention in the budget of introducing any initiatives and we were then led to believe that an announcement would be made in the Finance Bill.”
But the Finance Bill failed to introduce any of these vital initiatives, he said.