Lobbying

South East Chambers are collectively calling on the Government to give priority to the creation of a Waterford Limerick motorway, over the Cork to Limerick route, ahead of the Capital funding announcement in early February.

The group, which includes Chambers from Carlow, Dungarvan & West Waterford, Enniscorthy, Gorey, Kilkenny, New Ross, Wexford and Waterford, have been vocal in highlighting the importance of better connectivity between the regional capitals, as designated by the draft National Planning Framework.

Backing the submission to Government by the Local Authorities in Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick supporting the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status, Waterford Chamber President Paul Nolan said: “As outlined in the National Planning Framework, we are facing a time of tremendous growth and it is clear that the cities of Waterford, Limerick and Cork in the Southern Region will be instrumental in that vision, particularly in complementing the role of Dublin.

“Offering major international access to four of the country’s five major ports and two international airports, a road network must be put in place to fast-track efficient connectivity between the cities as a matter of priority.

“The N24 in its current state presents a major obstacle to commercial operations and does not present a progressive image to potential investors coming to Ireland or to the South-East and Mid-West regions.

“Notwithstanding the importance of the proposed M20 from Cork to Limerick, South East Chambers believes first consideration must be given to upgrading the existing N24 to motorway standard running from Waterford to Limerick, connecting the M8 to Cork at Cahir and linking the M18 to Galway.

“This is the optimal solution to achieve maximum connectivity between the four Regional Cities (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.”

Outlining the key benefits, South East Chambers believes that the upgrade of the N24 would reduce the urgency for the construction of new direct motorways between Limerick and Cork and Waterford and Cork, saving significant public expenditure, maximising existing public infrastructure and creating key connectivity across the Southern Region and between the regional capitals.

On completion, the proposed M24 would ensure motorway connectivity between the cities of Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway, thereby connecting the South East, South and Western regions to become a very real and viable counterbalance to growth and development in the Dublin region.

The N24 suffers from slow journey times, is no longer fit for purpose and is currently routed through a number of towns and villages. As a result of Brexit, trade to and from continental Europe, via our ports is likely to increase, thus putting further strain on our already ponderous routes and carbon emissions.

The viability of the ports in the South East (Rosslare, Belview/Waterford), the Mid West (Foynes/Limerick) and the South West (Cork) to act as import and export centres with the EU and the UK are dependent on high quality, safe and direct transport corridors within our region.

Concluding, Mr Nolan said: “The Southern Region is on course to develop and grow significantly in the coming years and must be given every opportunity to reach its full potential. As a result, South East Chamber insists the region be given due consideration during the consultation process of the National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, particularly in respect of better connectivity between all our regional capital cities.”

Commenting on today’s (25th January 2018) publication of the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, "We welcome the recommendations of the Cost of Employer & Public Liability Insurance Report published today. Businesses need to see progress on the reducing cost of insurance as soon as possible. 

"This is an urgent matter for Irish businesses of all sizes and across all sectors as the cost of insurance has a substantial impact on competitiveness in both domestic and international markets.

"Brexit means that businesses are facing significant uncertainty and new challenges. Government needs to seriously address the high cost of doing business in order to support our companies and entrepreneurs through this difficult period, and the cost of insurance has to be a priority."

Commenting on today’s (23rd January 2018) announcement that the North South Interconnector has been granted full planning approval in Northern Ireland, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,"We are very pleased with the granting of full planning approval for the North South Interconnector by Northern Ireland planning authorities today.

"Energy security on the island of Ireland is of the utmost importance to business operations here, both indigenous industry and FDI companies. The Interconnector will improve security of electricity supply for Irish businesses and in turn strengthen the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM) to the benefit of both businesses and consumers.

"Delivery of the North South Interconnector will remove constraints and bottlenecks which restrict the most efficient flow of energy within the I-SEM and there has been widespread support for this project from the business community.

"Sufficient energy capacity is a pre-requisite for regional economies when competing for investment and attracting new companies to establish in an area. The Interconnector will ensure more competitive energy costs and increased capacity of the grid, which will facilitate new business and the scaling up of businesses.

"This is good news for Ireland’s competitiveness and we look forward to the completion of the project."  

The publication today (14/09/2017) of the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan is an important step towards improving Ireland’s competitiveness and ability to meet future challenges.

Commenting on the Review, Chambers Ireland, Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said, “An additional €4.1 billion being committed to capital spending between 2018-2021 will be welcome news to businesses across the country. This increased spending by Government is an important first step that will fund important infrastructure projects in priority areas such as transport, housing, water, and will drive continued economic improvement.

As economic conditions improve, the Government will have the opportunity to increase capital spending further and achieve the target of 4% of GDP that Chambers Ireland called for in our Pre-Budget 2018 Submission.

“The allocation of spending will provide the details and announce the anticipated infrastructure projects that are crucial for the economy. We are strongly in support of the forthcoming 10-year National Investment plan 2018-2027, being aligned closely with the publication of the National Planning Framework, Ireland 2040, in order to ensure that all capital investment is spent strategically to deliver long-term benefits.”

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Reacting to the announcement that the Rescue 117 helicopter will no longer transfer cardiac care patients from Waterford to Cork University Hospital, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “We are well past the time for talking now. What we need is action in the form of 24/7 cardiac care implemented in University Hospital Waterford without delay. Nobody can blame the Irish Aviation Authority for this decision. It certainly comes as no surprise considering the important work they are tasked to do on a daily basis. In effect, by relying on their service to transfer patients you are fundamentally putting other lives at risk and pilots cannot be expected to juggle between search-and-rescue operations and inter-hospital patient transfers while on rescue patrol.

“What is staggering is when you look at the costs in its most basic forms, the case for 24/7 Cardiac Care seems obvious. There are five helicopters operated by the Coast Guard, the service costs the state €68 million annually, so that’s €13.6 million for the Waterford service alone. This figure increased with a high volume of hospital transfers. The additional running cost of a 24/7 Regional Cardiac Care Service at UHW has been assessed at €2.9 million per annum. It couldn’t be clearer.

“The task of inter-hospital transfer lies with the Air Corps. They have a shortage of air crafts available. They will now step in, in the short term, to provide over night transfers. One has to ask is this for real? When is this going to end? The week begins with the news the cath lab is on the way, the following day the air transfers are terminated. It’s one step forward, two steps back. We are calling on the Government and the Minister for Health to put 24/7 Cardiac Care at the top of their agenda without delay. The lives of 500,000 people in this region matter.”

 

Independent Minister of State John Halligan TD has confirmed this afternoon that the mobile cath lab is scheduled to arrive at University Hospital Waterford on Sunday, 24th September.

Reacting to the news, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said: “We welcome the news that the arrival of the cath lab has been confirmed and within two weeks the hospital will be in a position to cater for in the region of 30-45 patients requiring Diagnostic Coronary Angiography per week. However there are reservations regarding a 20-week contract that is limited to dealing with the historical list solely.

It is important to stress that this is not 24/7 cardiac care or the expanded service that is required. It may be a step in the right direction, but it certainly is not enough and we will continue to lobby on behalf of our members to ensure the required level of cardiac care service is implemented in University Hospital Waterford.”

irishrail

The Waterford to Limerick Junction Rail route has been earmarked by Irish Rail as one of four potential routes that face closure if their funding requirements are not met.

Reacting to the news, Waterford Chamber CEO Gerald Hurley said it is disappointing and Waterford Chamber is very much opposed to the closure of the line.

“We have been very vocal in seeking better connectivity with the West and while we wait for Budget 2018 in respect of motorway developments, it is imperative we maintain the rail connection.

“Looking to the future, there are tremendous plans in place for Irish Rail with the relocation of the station to the heart of the new North Quays development. Now is the time to look at increasing connectivity to Waterford, not take it away.

“While we are anxious to maintain links with another major city, we understand that the Limerick to Waterford line also serves Tipperary Town, Cahir, Clonmel and Carrick On Suir and consideration must be given to the implications of cutting off those in rural Ireland.

“At a cost from just €13 and a journey time of 2hrs 30 mins, the service, when running, is actually quite a good one, considering the poor road conditions. Unfortunately, the route has been very poorly promoted and we see this as an opportunity lost in terms of tourism and business connections.

“Sadly, it came to our attention in recent weeks that a cycling enthusiast from Limerick had planned a day out with friends to the Waterford Greenway. On arriving at Limerick Junction, he was informed the train to Waterford was not in service. A bus transfer was offered but could not accommodate all the bikes. The gentleman’s group of friends were due to board in Clonmel, which was also not serviced, and their day out to Waterford was ruined.

“This cannot be tolerated. Waterford is doing its utmost to promote the destination and attractions such as the Greenway have opened up avenues for tourists from all over the country. If they cannot get here, it is very worrying.

“It has been stated the proposed cuts are due to poor passenger numbers, but if the trains aren’t running, how can that be a legitimate indicator? Before any decision is made certain questions need to be answered. How many times are bus transfers offered in place of trains? Why is the service not promoted? Why is there no service on Sundays?

“We are now calling on Irish Rail to reconsider the matter with immediate effect and make available all documentation on which they formed the basis for this decision.

“We intend to meet with Irish Rail in the coming days to lobby on behalf of our members and the business community in Waterford and make it clear that the route must be retained without question.”

 

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