Dundalk in prime position

DUNDALK is set to become the technology hub of the north east following its designation as a gateway for investment.

Dundalk Chamber of Commerce chief executive Deirdre Ryan said the designation would help the city attract major foreign investment.

Dundalk already has a large amount of hi-tech industries including Xerox, Quantum and ABB but it hopes to attract even more multi-national and indigenous industries, Ms Ryan said.

The designation will help Dundalk obtain the best information and communications technology (ICT) as it will now be given priority in the national broadband communication network.

“This will make us more attractive for foreign investors and help Dundalk achieve its goal of becoming a technology city,” Ms Ryan said.

While Dundalk has a good rail and road infrastructure, the designation will also help it attract one of the major Government departments when the decentralisation programme is announced, Ms Ryan said.

Louth Sinn Féin Deputy Arthur Morgan welcomed the designation of Dundalk as a gateway centre and said it would help its development as a technological showcase of the north east.

But Deputy Morgan said he was disappointed the neighbouring town of Drogheda was bypassed as a hub for development in the strategy.

This view was echoed by Fine Gael Deputy Fergus O’Dowd, who said Drogheda has over 1,000 people more than Dundalk and the two towns should at least have been linked together for development as happened in Kerry and the Midlands.

“Drogheda will now be by-passed by outside investors because it does not have the designation and this is totally unfair considering it is only 22 miles from Dundalk,” Mr O’Dowd said.

Drogheda has had special status and qualified for certain grants until now because it was part of the Border Midlands and Western (BMW) region.

But now it will be part of the Greater Dublin area under the spatial strategy and Mr O’Dowd fears this will lead to Drogheda losing its BMW status.

The Fine Gael deputy claimed Dundalk was awarded the gateway status because it had more political clout, being the home of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Minister Dermot Ahern and Fianna Fáil parliamentary party chairman Deputy Seamus Kirk.

But Environment Minister Martin Cullen defended the selection of Dundalk yesterday. He said it was selected because it was well-positioned to energise eastern parts of the Border area.

Mr Cullen said Dundalk was also on a nationally strategic road and rail network.

It also had substantial capacity for development in land and services and the added advantage of its own institute of technology, he said.

“Taking account of these strengths and the issue of ensuring development within the Dublin-Belfast corridor, Dundalk is the obvious choice of a gateway,” Mr Cullen added.

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