24th October 2017
Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky date since the time Jesus sat down for dinner with his 12 disciples on the night before his death.
Despite superstition associated with this date, on Friday 13th 2017 Cork Chamber was honoured to host An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. for breakfast in the redeveloped Paírc Uí Chaoimh at the Taoiseach’s first engagement in Cork since taking office.
Coming just a couple of days after Budget 2018 was announced, the Taoiseach’s briefing generated huge interest among members and we had almost 400 attendees at the event, a record-breaking number for a Chamber breakfast.
In his welcome, our Chamber President Bill O’Connell spoke of the further potential of Cork and the need for investment in our city region for Cork to become home to even more business and people in the future. In front of the Taoiseach, Ministers and our MEPs, Bill highlighted that Cork could and should be the fulcrum for growth in the Southern region.
After being invited to speak, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in turn highlighted Government’s commitment to long-term planning for the future and increasing investment in infrastructure.
He applauded the strong growth in employment figures and the number of new jobs created in the South West region, which in the last year has seen the fastest growth anywhere in Ireland: “This is a credit to everyone in this room who has contributed so much to making this region and this city an attractive place for investment, growth and work” he added.
During his address, Taoiseach Varadkar also spoke of the need to create more 80,000 jobs and 60,000 homes in Cork City by 2040, and a desire within Government to reverse a decline in the city’s population:
“Over the next twenty-five years we want other cities, and in particular the city of Cork, to grow at twice the rate they did over the previous twenty-five. And we want to connect Cork and Limerick and Galway forming an Atlantic Economic Corridor, and a competitor of real scale not just to compete with Dublin but to compete internationally as well.”
We were delighted when the Taoiseach subsequently announced that funding has been secured to commence the planning and design of the long awaited M20 Motorway, which has long been the focus of a joint campaign between the policy team in Cork Chamber and our colleagues in Limerick Chamber.
“The M20 is a huge project with a massive price-tag. But it is however worth it” the Taoiseach perfectly put it, before confirming that the project will be included in Government’s new 10 year National Investment Plan. He also used the opportunity to confirm that Dunkettle Interchange is powering ahead, and that the Ballyvourney to Macroom Road upgrade will move to tender next year.
The commitment to Ireland’s second city region was furthered by an additional announcement of a new national food innovation hub to be based in Cork, which will help create new products, feed into the agri food sector and help diversify Irish goods in advance of Brexit.
An Taoiseach finished his address by emphasising that Government shares the goals and ambitions of Cork.
“We will invest in your endeavours, and we will continue to work side by side with you as we work to achieve these goals” were his concluding words.
Be sure to check out the full PHOTO GALLERY from the event on our website and the fantastic EVENT VIDEO here!
You can read the full speech by An Taoiseach here.