Barry O’Sullivan, Johnson & Johnson with Niall O’Callaghan, IDA
A FAILURE to develop the €150m Northern Distributor Road in Limerick would be “disastrous for future jobs”, three business leaders have warned.
In an unprecedented move, bosses at three of the largest foreign direct investment employers in the city have joined with the IDA’s mid-western manager Niall O’Callaghan to warn rejection of the massive scheme would “send the wrong signal to investors”.
Barry O’Sullivan, Johnson and Johnson, Bill Doherty, Cook medical and Catherine Duffy, Northern Trust spoke out as councillors prepare to vote on plans to vary the development plan to allow the road go ahead.
The link would cross the Shannon from the city’s northside – where it would open up Moyross – bypass Corbally and traverse the Mountshannon Road, before continuing to the Cappamore Junction and the Dublin Road.
A roundabout would be built to provide a link to the old Dublin/Castleconnell Road, with a second roundabout included near to the Daughters of Charity in Lisnagry to link in with the Dublin Road, which connects Annacotty and Castletroy to the city centre.
The R445 would be reconfigured to connect to the new roundabout, with another exit connecting to the Cappamore/Murroe Road.
And crucially, a spur is proposed across the Mulcair River to provide a link with the National Technology Park, while the Northern Distributor Road would eventually continue and connect to the Mackey Roundabout to allow M7 access.
Many see the Northern Distributor Road as the solution to existing capacity constraints on the main road through the National Technology Park and the university which can see 40 minute delays.
But there is still huge opposition to the plans among residents and councillors who fear flooding along the route. A flyover is proposed for the Mountshannon Road.
When the initial plans came before council in 2015, they were rejected 27-3, with Willie O’Dea saying the new plans will be “obsolete” when they finally get off the ground due to population growth.
A number of other councillors in both Limerick and Clare have spoken against the multi-million euro route. But the three business leaders – who between them lead companies employing over 3,000 people – are taking a different approach.
“This road is vital and it would be disastrous for future development and future jobs in the National Technology Park if it were to be rejected again,” said Mr O’Sullivan, who also chairs the Mid-West Action Plan for jobs group.
“It will relieve both the National Technology Park and neighbouring areas of the current congestion issues and open it up for further investment, expansion and job creation,” he added.
Mr Doherty warned: “Local authority members must not deny this process, not least when it would mean that it has the capacity to deny this part of Limerick considerable future investment.”
And Ms Duffy said it would be “incomprehensible” if the city and region were denied the opportunity offered by the link.
“It is time for local authority members to stand up for Limerick and the region,” she added.
Mr O’Callaghan, who is the IDA’s top representative in the region, said: “Limerick and the Mid-West have been the great success story of the Irish recovery.
“Not including the Northern Distributor Road in the development plan would run contrary with the proud business reputation all stakeholders have worked so hard to collectively build over the recent past, and would be a regressive message”.
Councillors will vote on whether to vary the development plan at May’s meeting, while closing date for submissions on the route is Monday.