Inaction to cause Cork docklands ‘delay’

GOVERNMENT inaction will delay the regeneration of the Cork docklands, Fine Gael claimed last night.

Speaking in the Dáil, Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune criticised the Government’s failure to date to announce tax incentives for the project.

Under the €2 billion regeneration plan, homes, offices and leisure space will be built on the 166-hectare docklands site near Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Prior to Christmas, the Government signalled tax incentives to encourage development in the docklands would be announced in the Finance Bill 2008.

But when that bill was published last week, it overlooked the Cork project, with Finance Minister Brian Cowen saying more time was needed to determine what incentives could be provided. She said the Government’s “apparent indifference” was a huge mistake.

“The Government has missed a very important opportunity and through its inaction will delay a project that has enormous potential and which is vital for the future sustainable development of this region.

“The regeneration of the docklands has the potential to deliver 25,000 jobs to the area and to have 20,000 people living in a revitalised modern environment.

“The project could transform Cork in a similar fashion to docklands regeneration in Dublin and London,” she said.

Labour TD Kathleen Lynch also criticised the omission of incentives from the bill.

“There is not a penny, paragraph or bullet point in the Finance Bill about the future of the docklands project in Cork. The Dublin Docklands Authority has been in place for the past 10 years, and longer. I believe the Rainbow Government put it in place, but there is nothing for the docklands in Cork, which is pivotal as regards how the city develops.

“Surely the Government must realise that the imbalance that has occurred in this country is the result of lack of development and investment in areas outside Dublin?”

However, the Government has said it cannot announce tax incentives without ensuring they comply with EU regulations.

The EU rules generally forbid state-aided funding that favour certain businesses and risk distorting competition.

Speaking at the launch of the Finance Bill last week, Mr Cowen said: “It’s a very exciting project with a lot of potential but I think we have to work our way through the various issues.”

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