Including the Cork-Limerick motorway in the Capital Plan review in 2017 would vastly improve investment in the region long into the future, Cork Chamber’s annual Christmas lunch heard yesterday.
Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell used his address in front of a 300-strong audience to call for various Cork infrastructure projects to be given firm timelines for delivery, as well as the M20 motorway.
Despite €20m spent on planning for the €800m motorway, it was postponed indefinitely in 2011 by then transport minister Leo Varadkar, who said there was no funding available for the foreseeable future.
Intensive lobbying from business and political figures in Munster in recent months prompted speculation that it may be included in the Capital Plan 2016-2021 review.
Mr O’Connell said there was momentum for the region over the past few weeks with the announcement that Cork flights to Boston would finally take off in the New Year.
Norwegian Airlines International had finally got the green light from the US to operate the flights following months of uncertainty.
Mr O’Connell added that the Capital Plan review could cement that progress by committing to the M20.
He said: “In 2017, we want the M20 motorway included in the Capital Plan Review. We also want to see the already-included projects such as the Dunkettle Interchange really get under way, and move towards delivery and certainty around timing and funding.”
He called for the public to show their support for the new routes out of Cork Airport, saying it was in the hands of people in Cork that would decide their ultimate success.
He said: “We now need to get out and use these flights, as well as encouraging more visitors into Cork. It is a real win-win to have more people into access the Cork region.”
Mr O’Connell acknowledged that Cork faced the same challenges as many regions around Europe in the wake of the Brexit vote and the US election. However it was also a chance to capitalise on opportunities, he added.
He said: “There are many reasons to be optimistic, notwithstanding the many headwinds out there in the global economy. Cork is very well positioned to outperform expectation.
“We are focused on opportunities from Brexit and for companies relocating and establishing a base in Ireland.
“Why wouldn’t they pick Cork with the mix of investment, environment, people, talent and the quality of life we can offer here to access the European marketplace from what will soon be the second largest English-speaking city in the EU?” he said.
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