Taskforce working to put Mid West on the map

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Taskforce Chairman Barry O'Sullivan

WITH 80 per cent of all people coming into the country entering through Dublin, the newly formed Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce is now looking at putting the Mid West firmly on the map.

At last Monday’s meeting of Limerick City and County Council, taskforce chairman Barry O’Sullivan spoke of how the region’s potential can be realised in the deployment of offshore wind power and the new emerging green hydrogen sector, as Ireland seeks to become an exporter of clean energy.

The former Johnson & Johnson Visioncare boss highlighted their aim to assess the strategic strengths and comparative advantages of the Shannon Estuary and scope out potential opportunities for the area.

The taskforce, which includes Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine and Limerick Chamber chief executive Dee Ryan, will produce a report specifying the actions which can be taken to create jobs and opportunities in the region by the end of the year.  The four main areas they are currently focused on are off shore energy, onshore energy, transport and infrastructure, and tourism.

“We are focussing on being as practical as possible. I have 25 years experience in factories so the focus is on getting things done,” Mr O’Sullivan told council members.

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“We are at the start of a new industrial revolution and we have to be part of the European solution. We have to capitalise on it and leverage what we have.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan suggested that the taskforce take a look at the 240-acre industrial estate in Askeaton which has been “lying idle” for a number of years.

“Keep that in mind,” Cllr Sheahan told Mr O’Sullivan.

“There has been alleged animal health issues and alleged human health issues in the area but I am a skeptical about that,” he added.

Independent councillor Jerome Scanlan made the suggestion that solar panels be used on farm buildings as a means of creating energy.

“There is a huge energy potential here. There is a massive expanse of farm buildings where solar panels could be used to feed energy back to the grid,” Cllr Scanlan believes.

Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin was of the opinion that there is a need to future-proof the assets on our doorstep and took the view that connectivity was the key factor in this.

“What can we do to incentivise airlines to come into Shannon Airport? It has huge advantages with one of the largest runways in the world. We need to drive the potential of the airport.”