Cork economy is ‘fulcrum to drive all Munster forward’

Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell tells annual dinner of city’s potential

From left: Senator Jerry Buttimer; Minister of State Dara Murphy; Willis Towers Watson’s Brian Curtis; Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill; Minister of State Eoghan Murphy; president of Cork Chamber of Commerce Barrie O’Connell; Willis Towers Watson’s Eoin Motherway; and Ray O’Connor of IDA Ireland.  Photograph: Jim Coughlan.

From left: Senator Jerry Buttimer; Minister of State Dara Murphy; Willis Towers Watson’s Brian Curtis; Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill; Minister of State Eoghan Murphy; president of Cork Chamber of Commerce Barrie O’Connell; Willis Towers Watson’s Eoin Motherway; and Ray O’Connor of IDA Ireland. Photograph: Jim Coughlan.

 

Cork has both the potential and the ambition to expand its international financial services sector and offer an alternative within Ireland to the IFSC in Dublin, according to Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell.

Mr O’Connell said Cork was already home to a small but growing international financial services sector and it had huge potential to capitalise further as both the Government and IDA Ireland seek to promote Ireland as a destination for IFS companies in the fallout from Brexit.

Cork Chamber has established a Financial Services Forum comprising industry, education and services providers and the forum has already put in place a strategy for 2017. Members have recently attended the European Financial Forum in Dublin Castle, he said

Members of the forum also attended a Fintech briefing in London hosted by IDA Ireland and they will be travelling to Boston and New York with Irish Funds which will further enhance Cork’s chances of attracting in IFS companies.

Addressing 1,000 guests at the Cork Chamber annual dinner, Mr O’Connell noted Minister of State for Financial Services Eoghan Murphy had earlier in the day officially opened the Cork offices of global professional services group Willis Towers Watson, which plans to create 40 jobs at the centre.

“Minister Eoghan Murphy has fairly challenged Cork to be an alternative international financial services location to the IFSC within Ireland and tonight our response is clear – Cork shares this ambition and we look forward to seeing him at future international financial services announcements in Cork.”

Urban area

Noting that Cork is the fastest-growing area outside greater Dublin, with a population greater than Galway, Limerick and Waterford combined, Mr O’Connell pointed out Cork was a leader in employment with an unemployment rate now down to 6.4 per cent.

Both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland were hugely supportive, he said, and the southwest as a whole had the lowest unemployment rate in the country with the region experiencing an increase of 11,000 foreign direct investment jobs since 2009.

The city was benefiting from significant investment in such landmark developments as the Capitol Complex on the Grand Parade and Páirc Uí Chaoimh while Cork Airport achieved growth of 8 per cent last year. Further growth there is forecast this year with the advent of transatlantic services.

Nonetheless, there were areas where progress needed to be made, including housing, the earlier delivery of road projects such as the Dunkettle interchange, and upgrades of roads to Ringaskiddy, Macroom and Killarney and the main N20 to Limerick.

“Cork is the fulcrum to drive all Munster forward. Timely delivery of the M20 Cork to Limerick is an imperative to facilitate effective economic collaboration across Munster,” said Mr O’Connell. He added that Cork was and would be “the second engine of economic growth” in Ireland to complement Dublin.