Funding for seven regional priorities is to the fore for the new Forum of First Citizens.
The Cathaoirligh and CEOs of councils in Carlow and Kilkenny have teamed with colleagues from Wexford, Waterford and Tipperary to address the structural challenges faced by the South East.
Seven priorities have been identified with monies for most a central point going forward as Chair of Kilkenny County Council Andrew McGuinness has been telling KCLR News “Funding would be massive part of it because among the items that we’re pursuing or that we’re campaigning for are the Technological University for the South East which would require a €250 million investment by 2025, we’re looking for a €30 million region-specific South East Innovation Fund, 40 new IDA companies in the South East and new IDA property in each county by 2024, there’s a lot of things on the list”.
He adds all local representatives can have an input, noting “A lot of the councillors in each of the local authorities would have contributed some ideas like I mean members of Kilkenny County Council came to me with the issue of the provision of a 24/7 cardiac care centre for the South East and that’s now on the agenda as well so there’s a lot of positive things there we hope to achieve as a group going forward”.
Cllr McGuiness also says there’s strengths in numbers, saying “It’s always good to lobby ministers for funding as a group and I think by coming together with all of the counties in the South East that we can do that far more effectively in collaboration and you know e already have met with our local TDs in each of the counties via zoom meeting only last week so they’re already aware of the group and what we want to achieve and we’ll start lobbying the ministers and hopefully we’ll achieve some of the goals we have on our list”.
The full list:
1. Technological University of South East – €250 million investment by 2025: The new TUSEI will require funding that matches the scale of the ambition of the project, similar to the State support given to the €500m development of TU Dublin.
2. A €30m region-specific South East Innovation Fund: There is a need for specific funding for the South East to support strategic projects that can drive job creation (similar to the €28m Border Fund and the €44m Midlands Just Transition Fund).
3. Investment in South East Ports & more strategic collaboration between them: Government support is required to develop the South East ports (Rosslare and Belview, Waterford) as strategic national solutions to Brexit, to take advantage of their huge potential as offshore wind hubs and to act as drivers of the region’s economy.
4. 40 new IDA companies in South East and new IDA property in each county by 2024: The South East has amongst the lowest levels of IDA jobs in Ireland. More ambitious IDA engagement in the South East is required to make up the shortfall.
5. A specific Enterprise Ireland Regional Director for South East: The South East is one of the only regions in Ireland without a specific Enterprise Ireland Regional Director. Our SMEs are vulnerable to Brexit and Covid, and senior EI leadership is required urgently.
6. Accelerate upgrades of N24 and N80 road connections: The South East requires upgrades on its road connectivity to the west and internally. The N24 upgrade needs to be progressed and the route should also be seriously examined as an alternative motorway route to the proposed N20 development.
7. Provision of a 24/7 Cardiac Care Centre for the South East: The announcement of the appointment of the contractor to build the second Cath Lab in UHW is very welcome and we now need to ensure that this translates to comprehensive delivery of 24/7 cardiac care service to ensure that patients do not have to travel long distances for urgent care.