O’Keeffe insists Cork docklands project a ‘priority’

THE regeneration of Cork’s sprawling docklands remains a government priority, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation insisted yesterday.

The project will be discussed by the Cabinet in early September — the first meeting after the summer recess, Batt O’Keeffe revealed.

He was reacting to Fine Gael criticism of Dublin bias in the €39 billion Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016, announced on Monday.

Senator Jerry Buttimer said there are many developments in Cork which will require a significant amount of investment if they are to be implemented.

“It is questionable however, whether these project will now go ahead,” he said.

He singled out the upgrades of the N25 Cork southern ring road, the N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy road, and funding for the Cork Docklands Eastern Gateway Bridge project.

“Economic studies have shown that if the Government invests in the region to the tune of €120 million to €200m, dividends of up to €680m can be obtained for the local economy per year,” he said.

But Mr O’Keeffe said just because Cork projects didn’t feature in Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean that funding won’t be forthcoming.

More funding will be announced as the plan is rolled out, he said.

“The Government is committed to the docklands development. You can be sure that Minister Micheál Martin and myself will be to the forefront in ensuring that Cork gets its fair share,” he said.

The minister was speaking before briefing the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland, Pedro Fernando Brêtas Bastos, and João Carlos Parkinson de Castro, the head of the Economic and Trade Sections at the Brazilian embassy, at City Hall in Cork.

They were in the city to investigate potential locations for Brazilian companies to locate in Europe.

The briefing, attended by city manager Joe Gavin, representatives from Cork County Council, UCC, the Port of Cork and Cork Chamber, included presentations on the docklands vision and outlined the infrastructure and facilities available in the Cork Metropolitan Area.

Lord Mayor Michael O’Connell said it provided an excellent opportunity to showcase Cork as an excellent location for investment.

Mr O’Keeffe stressed the region’s road, rail and port infrastructure, its skilled workforce, the strengths of its third-level institutions, and highlighted the Tyndall’s reputation for research, development and innovation.

“We see Brazil as being a key area for our trade exploration in to the future,” he said.

The minister also plans to lead a trade delegation to Brazil in the autumn to strengthen trade links.

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