New Government must give Limerick and the Mid West special treatment, says chamber

Limerick Chamber said the Mid West is not interested in dragging on the coattails of other regions. File Image. Picture: Denis Scannell

Limerick and the Mid-West are not interested in dragging on the coattails of other regions and said the area must get special treatment from the new Government, Limerick Chamber has said.

Noting the absence of representation from the Mid-West in the second successive Government cabinet, President of Limerick Chamber David Jeffreys said that the government will have no option but to give special attention to the region.

"We will give the newly formed government the benefit of the doubt that the lack of a senior minister will not deny the region in any way. They must recognise that large swathes of the local economy here is at tipping point,” he said.

Mr Jeffreys said have had a complete collapse of international tourism and that Shannon Airport has been "floored by the impact" of Covid-19. "Our city centre is already struggling for footfall and major losses have been endured over recent weeks and months with the closure of big brand retailers such as Debenhams in April and now Argos in June, without even mentioning the numerous independent retailers who have already closed their doors."

The Chamber's CEO Dee Ryan said: "We are not at all interested in dragging on the coattails of other regions and I do not believe government sees it that way." She said redline issues for the Mid West include city centre revitalisation, support for Shannon Airport, developing the M20 motorway to Cork as a priority, as well as a link road to Foynes and the Northern Distributor Road. 

On the issue of the M20 motorway, Limerick Chamber joined Cork Chamber in demanding the Government continue to invest in regional connectivity. Fears had been raised in recent weeks that the project would not proceed. It led to the new Taoiseach Micheál Martin pledging that he and his party would be 100% behind the intercity route.

Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber said: “The M20 will bring Cork, Limerick and Galway closer together. Each of these city regions has exceptional targets and ambitions set out in Ireland 2040 and their growth is critical to a geographically balanced economy. For business, connectivity regionally and internationally is a constant source of frustration for attracting and retaining investment."

Mr Healy pointed to the Indecon report they published in 2017 which showed that the Cork to Limerick transport corridor would support an estimated additional 4,000 to 5,400 direct jobs in the region with a gain up to €128 million per annum for the exchequer. "For business, connectivity regionally and internationally is a constant source of frustration for attracting and retaining investment," he said. 

Ms Ryan said the M20 could also make a significant impact on travel patterns and car dependency if they bus and cycle infrastructure is given priority at every point where the motorway meets with a town or city. 

"Another is by ensuring that the route is complemented by a greenway connecting Limerick and Cork. We must design a transport corridor for the future. The project is about regional connectivity, and fits seamlessly with the Limerick and Cork metropolitan area transport strategies which are focussed on sustainable and active mobility in our city regions.”

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