Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has said that as the economy gradually reopens and restrictions ease, decades of chronic underinvestment in key infrastructure including transport, is threatening to undermine the prospects for economic recovery.
The group is calling on Government to ensure that the National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI ) supports the delivery of an enhanced National Development Plan (NDP ), underpinned by an ambitious programme of world class public services and infrastructure development.
Ibec Senior Regional Policy Executive, Helen Leahy, said: "NIFTI can play a central role in ensuring the delivery of an enhanced ‘NDP Plus’ programme of investment to support better lives and better business in the West region.
"Investment is needed to make the region more resilient and globally competitive due to Covid, Brexit and other global threats, with sectors such as tourism, leisure, and hospitality particularly exposed.
"Targeted and ambitious capital investment in transport, broadband, housing, education including a new Technological University, revitalisation of Galway metropolitan area and towns across the region, will be key to supporting the region’s economy to rebuild and ensuring it is better connected, more sustainable, and ultimately more competitive in the wake of the pandemic.
"In rural areas across the West, tourism is a key economic driver. Tourism should be placed at the centre of the infrastructure investment ambitions as it has huge potential to contribute to the national policy of balanced regional development. Also, the delivery of key regional investment projects that will drive regional employment growth will be crucial post-pandemic.
"The Atlantic Corridor is key to balancing future development on the island. Strong transport links within the region and between regions are vital, and key projects need to be progressed with urgency and delivered.
"Covid has shown the urgent need for investment in digital connectivity, and the National Broadband Plan delivery must be accelerated to allow the region to embrace the economic opportunities remote working may offer."
Ibec’s key infrastructure priorities for the West region in its recent NDP submission include: (1 ) Increase capital investment in the further and higher education sector and establish a Technological University in the region; (2 ) Upgrade the Atlantic Economic Corridor from Galway northwards by completing the M17 Tuam to Sligo and N15 Sligo to Letterkenny; (3 ) Accelerate the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan and ensure a supportive regulatory environment for the successful roll-out of 5G; (4 ) Implement the Galway Transport Strategy (GTS ) and deliver vital public transport across metropolitan Galway; (5 ) Complete the N6 Galway City Ring Road, a key component of the GTS; (6 ) Upgrade the entire N5 Westport to Longford route, improving connectivity between the West, Midlands, and Dublin; (7 ) Invest in future Port of Galway developments and expansion, including the facilitation of offshore renewable energy projects; (8 ) Revitalise town centres to ensure their future viability and underpin recovery across the region and (9 ) Prioritise leisure and tourism investment to fulfil the huge potential of the sector on the Western seaboard as one of the main drivers of balanced regional development.