The Deputy will be aware that the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce was recently established following a commitment in the Programme for Government to ensure that local development plans are put in place to stimulate sustainable economic activity for those areas that had been expecting economic development arising from new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
The Terms of Reference for the Taskforce are to:
1. Assess the strategic strengths and comparative advantages of the Shannon Estuary from an investment and enterprise development perspective, in a national and international context;
2. Scope potential areas of opportunity for the Shannon Estuary and specify policy and investment requirements to exploit those areas of potential, with particular focus on renewable energy, transport and connectivity, manufacturing, and tourism;
3. Assess the current connectivity of the region and make recommendations as to how this could be enhanced;
4. Specify the actions required from national and local government, as well as from other stakeholders, to exploit those areas of potential; and
5. Produce a Report and associated Action Plan with specific steps in areas of potential.
Mr Barry O’Sullivan, formerly of Johnston and Johnston, and a current board member of the IDA has been appointed Chair of the Taskforce which is comprised of nine other experts in the areas of research, academia and industry. The membership, including the Chair were selected following an open call for Expression of Interest.
The Taskforce held its first meeting on the 6th of May, and the Tánaiste met with the Chair, Mr O’Sullivan, after that meeting to receive an update from him on their initial discussions, and to discuss next steps. Two further meetings of the Taskforce are planned over the coming weeks.
The Chair has also begun a programme of engagement with the local authorities and has met with the Chief Executives of Limerick City and County Council, Clare County Council, Kerry County Council, and Tipperary County Council. Further engagement with the local authorities, as well as with officials from the relevant Government departments, and other stakeholders is also planned.
In accordance with its Terms of Reference, the Taskforce will conclude its work by the end of this year and I very much look forward to receiving its final report and action plan at that point.