DRAWING its supporters and critics, Project 2040 has divided opinions amid claims that it has turned its back on Limerick and is a missed opportunity that will be regretted for generations to come in the Mid West.
That’s according to Limerick Chamber CEO, Dr James Ring who said that Mid West’s lack of political influence at a national level is hurting the region.
However Minister of State at the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure, Patrick O’Donovan said that communities across the county will be strengthened and enjoy a sustainable future thanks to the investment plan.
In a war of words this Wednesday, the Chamber boss, while acknowledging the influence of Minister O’Donovan in securing funding for the M20 to Cork and Limerick to Foynes road, Dr Ring said that deeper analysis of last Friday’s announcement suggests that the region’s capacity to help address current economic imbalance on the island has been largely ignored in the plans.
Since the retirement of Michael Noonan from cabinet’s finance portfolio, Dr Ring says that this has been reflected in Project Ireland 2040’s outcome for the Mid West.
In a strongly worded statement, Minister O’Donovan said that “nothing could be further from the truth” and that he is “fighting and representing Limerick’s case every day at Government and national level”.
The Limerick TD said that three quarters of the plan is focused on development outside of Dublin and “both rural and urban Limerick will benefit from this.
This Wednesday, the CEO of the business representative body challenged the plan and warned that Limerick and the region should not be stymied in achieving its collective ambitions.
“Another major concern is how the plan fails to support airports outside Dublin. Shannon has plenty of extra capacity and its growth over recent years has mirrored that of the regional economy”, Dr Ring said.
This too was rebutted by the Limerick Minister who said that the measures put in place through the plan “show the Mid West is clearly a priority for Fine Gael in Government and I completely reject assertions that Limerick is losing its influence on the national stage”.
However Dr Ring went on to say that while he feels that the NPF, was a chance to make a real difference in the regions, he optimistically said that “we will press on regardless”.