Claire Nash, outgoing Cork Business Association President speaks at the award ceremony in the Clarion Hotel:
Good evening, Ard Mheire, Councillor Chris o Leary , city manager chief executive Ann Doherty Elected representatives, guests of CBA, board members and my executive friends welcome to our annual dinner and business of the year awards We are privileged to be here in the Clarion a hotel that exudes hospitality and contributes hugely to the heart beat of our city, to Raymond Kelleher Garreth, your new general manager, and chef Ciaran. When the words ‘No Problem’ are top of an organisation we are on a winner I am so looking forward to our taste of the English Market followed by a cheese plate sponsored by some local cheese suppliers To Heineken Ireland for a very generous drinks reception , our wines from Le Caveau and M&POS plus a taste of Longueville cider with our fish plate ... A veritable feast awaits.
When I sought inspiration from my phone photos of 2015 besides food and golf I decided my exploits in either weren't cutting the mustard so I trawled the old reliable Blue book which was replaced by the yellow one in September, what a read!
We are here tonight to celebrate and honour a year in the life of CBA surrounded by traders retailers and business who even though the year started fairly gingerly it took on a positive robust energy starting to show growth steadily from March right through till December. A few shocking Saturdays in November nearly derailed the optimism but Christmas was back to Glory days and we deserved it.
Combined influences have contributed to this. The Economy had lifted in Dublin at a much faster rate than Cork and other urban areas - that steady bounce was accelerated by other factors for Cork ... We have a council that under the stewardship of Ann Doherty committed once again to a program of events, festivals and cultural treats sync outs with Cork, we have over 100. Days of festivals kicked off with St Patrick's day, the Mid-Summer festival hosted the long Table dinner organised by The City Centre Forum, this forum which is a collective group of bodied and like minded people working on various projects including the purple flag awarded to Cork and its night time economy also the cashless Cork pioneered by Paul Montgomery needs no introduction.
The event that really captured the Essence of Cork was Culture Night with over 300 events core graphed by Team and the arts department can I welcome our new arts officer Jean Brennan to her new role. Cork Ignite - the grand finale of Culture Night - was an exhibition of light created by Simon Mckeown and has been rolling on your screens this evening... Regarding this, thank yous particularly to Mary McCarthy of the National Scuplture Factory.
The Jazz Festival was back to even bigger numbers and the year ended with yet another remarkable Glow Cork Christmas. May I thank Team and Paul Moynihan new director of corporate affairs both Paul and Damian are here this evening. Did you know we have at last a new city centre coordinator Paul Mc Guirk who we are looking forward to working closely with in the coming years, welcome Paul to our dinner.
On the back of this Ann Doherty has formed the City Centre Partnership with invited bodies ourselves , the Gardai , chamber , Bus Eireann some elected members chaired by Ann and the various directors from Council this is a game changer for the city it's management and growth .
Ger O’ Mahony chaired a very interesting strategic process involving Failte, Tourism Ireland both city and county formulating a working document on Growing Cork Tourism ... A collective strategy, the workshops were robust and I didn't envy your task Ger when Mallow’s horse racing industry and Cobh’s heritage and cruise ships competed with surfing at Garretstown all to be revealed on Tuesday evening I believe congratulations Ger!
The 1916 commemoration ceremonies and events program was launched earlier this month - the city council again leading the march a program which is growing as we speak.
The biggest hook of all in this recovery is our airport - I believe. CBA has a place on their Council despite some misunderstanding of the airport model Cork airport has steady growth to report, new airlines have new routes opened up hopefully the transatlantic one is over the line with Norwegian air and airlines continue to expand their routes, we depend on this access to continue a growing tourist and business foot fall to our city and region. The airline business is hugely competitive and I urge you all to use Cork airport when leaving the country where possible - Niall McCarthy we wish you continued success!
We have an election coming up in February and apologies from Minister Coveney on his absence This evening he has an Ard Dehis to attend when asked could I postpone the dinner I said no ... No matter what the result is in business we would like Politicians of all parties and none to remember what everyone has been through and to understand the truth of saying that those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We need an environment that is stable and encouraging our raw talent to stay in Ireland, we will grow sustainable futures for them for us our employees and communities we work and live in. Cork is set to prosper with the developments already under way One Albert Quay about to open in the coming weeks, O’ Callaghan properties are set to develop Anderson quay and their site on Albert quay goes for planning in the coming weeks, the Brooks Haughton site has spectacular plans on Union Quay and Sullivan’s Quay Hotel and Office development will commence in conjunction with South Main Street the event centre site which we all need to start.
Penny's have acquired properties with the intention to increase their foot print in the heart of our city And of course the jewel in the crown for us about to start on Monday, JCD John Cleary received planning from Bord Pleanala in late December the shot in the arm which the city celebrated. This on its completion will make Cork city the retail centre, the hub of business that we missed out on in the boom. Good luck to all developers, we are glad we held on at Nash 19 with the other 300 independent owner-operated and family businesses, coupled with high street stores is that eclectic top class experience which Cork offers and will move to best in class over the coming year.
The reality is the expansion of business and retail community will expand with up to 5000 jobs delivered onto our door steps not factoring in the collateral benefits and jobs to industry, financial, hospitality and other services . A multiplier of .7 can be realised from development of this scale.
Cities creates their own unique dynamic and it’s based on a lot of things- pride, history, identity, shared problems and successes, arguments and disagreements - and capacity. Cork city is lucky that it has an administrative framework within which big plans can come to fruition and because of which accountability, access and vigorous debate exist.
Which is why CBA and many, many people with no connection to us, are opposed to any notion that this fantastic city of Cork becomes a municipal district of the County Council. It’s not a night for getting into this is detail but what Cork city, Ireland’s second city, is being asked to do under the Smiddy Recommendations, which fell over the line by a single vote, is to go where no European city has been asked to go. I will offer just two thoughts.
The British Government’s flagship study Competitive European Cities: Where do the Core Cities Stand? stated: “Where cities are given more freedom and autonomy, they have responded by being more proactive, entrepreneurial and successful. The greater the fiscal independence of cities – the greater their capacity to experiment and be proactive.”
Those of us who work in the heart of Cork city and a lot of people who live here; even those who don’t live here but who look to the city as their reference point -want to direct our energies to get things done. That is why we will continue to oppose the proposition that Cork city will somehow work better if it gives up its identity, its Council, its budgets, its planning, its authority and its powers.
“Quoting Lonely Planet,- Ireland's second city is first in every important respect – at least according to the locals, who cheerfully refer to it as the 'real capital of Ireland'. It's a liberal, youthful and cosmopolitan place that was badly hit by economic recession but is now busily reinventing itself with spruced-up streets, revitalised stretches of waterfront, and – seemingly – an artisan coffee bar on every corner. There's a developing hipster scene, but the best of the city is still happily traditional – snug pubs with live-music sessions, restaurants dishing up top-quality local produce, and a genuinely proud welcome from the locals.”
Photo credit Billy Mac Gill