Cork county councillors are lobbying counterparts in other counties to try and scupper a motorway motion coming before a Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) meeting which they believe will position Limerick as the country's second city.
Cllr Gerard Murphy, a member of the SRA, told fellow councillors at a meeting in Mallow that Limerick City and County Council have put forward a motion at next month's SRA meeting which, if adopted as policy, will severely disadvantage Cork and Kerry and open the door to Limerick becoming the largest economic hub outside of Dublin.
Cllr Murphy told colleagues that Limerick councillors want the policy change to open up the real possibility that a motorway will be built connecting their city with Waterford and Rosslare, which would be known as the M24.
If built that motorway would likely intersect the M8 (Cork – Dublin motorway) near Cahir, Co Tipperary.
Cllr Murphy said if this is done it could then be argued that there is no need for a direct motorway link between Cork and Limerick (M20) as vehicles could travel up the M8 from Cork to Cahir and connect to Limerick that way.
He said, however, that this would spell economic disaster for North Cork, Cork City and Kerry.
Cllr Murphy also claimed it would severely disadvantage West Limerick.
"I'd be fuming over that if I was a West Limerick county councillor," commented Cllr Geroid Murphy.
Charleville-based Cllr Ian Doyle said the Limerick City and County Council motion had to be stopped.
Cllr Doyle said:
We will have 80% of the M20 in Cork and we need to be listened to down here.
He said he was also worried that road hauliers would accept the Limerick local authority's proposal.
Cllr Gerard Murphy said the government had sanctioned a motorway connection between Cork and Limerick. However, he said that it was still subject to a final route selection.
An original route was chosen by Cork County Council some years ago when it was the lead local authority on the project.
However, it has since been decided that the new route selection will be handled by Limerick City and County Council and this has caused even more concern for Cork councillors.
"If the Limerick proposal goes ahead it will totally isolate West Limerick, Kerry and North and West Cork, putting these areas at a major economic disadvantage into the future," Cllr Gerard Murphy added.
"In my opinion this is an effort by some vested interests in Limerick to have the city become the major (economic) counterbalance to Dublin and thus make Limerick the country's second city," Cllr Murphy said.
He said if the M20 direct route between Cork and Limerick was given the go-ahead, there were still challenges to be faced.
"National planners want the least number of junctions built off motorways these days. That's because they want to concentrate populations in the cities. We would need to ensure we had proper junction access off the motorway to the likes of Mallow, Buttevant and Charleville," Cllr Murphy added.