Shannon boss says opening of new motorway link is 'biggest step in decades'

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Welcome for new road link: Chief executive of the Shannon group, Matthew Thomas

Welcome for new road link: Chief executive of the Shannon group, Matthew Thomas

THE opening of the M18 Gort to Tuam motorway link is the “biggest step in the right direction in decades”.

That’s according to the chief executive of the Shannon group, Matthew Thomas.

The 57-kilometre extension opened this Wednesday and Mr Thomas was echoed in his comments by the managing director of Shannon Airport Andrew Murphy, who said the long-awaited completion “redoubles the potential of the region to be marketed for inward investment and tourism”.

He called for all interested parties along the Atlantic corridor to come together and promote the region for the benefit of all.

“This is much more than the opening of a segment of a motorway; it is huge stimulus for advancing the economy of this region. Up until now, the absence of continuous motorway right up to Tuam was an impediment in creating the collective that we now have at our disposal,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Murphy now points out the western region has two well-linked cities, Galway and Limerick, plus major towns like Ennis, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Gort and Loughrea along the same route.

“In the midst of all of this, we have an international airport with services to our key markets, Britain, Europe and North America that few if any regions of this size in Europe can boast. The completion of the motorway creates a level of scale that encourages us to go out and market the region as one in a way that couldn’t happen before,” he said.

Group CEO Mr Thomas said: “The completion of the motorway makes Shannon Airport even more accessible to Galway, which is important for both Galway and Shannon. It brings Galway and Shannon even closer together and provides greater connectivity through Shannon Airport to the global marketplace and holiday destinations.”

“We also operate Dunguaire Castle and it will enhance access to that very fine heritage asset as well.  There are also hundreds of people working in the Shannon Free Zone from Galway so the motorway will also improve their lives,” he added.

Mr Thomas said the complete M18 is “a hugely important piece of infrastructure for regional advancement”.

“It will benefit tourism and strength the region’s hand at winning inward investment and Shannon Airport has a central role in driving both of these. There’s more to do in terms of infrastructure, not least the Galway City outer by-pass or ring road but this is a huge step in the right direction; the biggest one in decades.”

Opening the new road today, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring said the motorway link would welcomed by local residents and motorists alike and would help to create jobs in the western region.

“With the opening of this fine stretch of road we now have a seamless motorway from Tuam to Limerick via Galway, Ennis and Shannon. I am a firm believer that that good infrastructure helps create jobs and the completion of this section of the motorway will help attract Irish and international companies to this region."