Re: Re: cork docklands

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01 February 2008

Cowen: Docklands tax incentives must not breach rules

By Stephen Rogers, Rose Martin and Ian Guider
THE Government last night said it would not be rushed into securing tax incentives for Cork’s Docklands project without first ensuring those incentives would not breach EU state aid regulations (Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen is pictured).

While announcing the Finance Bill yesterday, Minister Brian Cowen said the Government was looking at how it could get round the EU legislation to put the incentives in place for developers to take on the e2 billion Docklands project.

However, he said it would take time and consultation.

Fine Gael questioned the Government’s commitment to Cork saying it had promised to address the incentives in yesterday’s bill.

“Last December I challenged Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin about the lack of tax incentives for the Docklands in the budget,” said FG TD Deirdre Clune.

“Minister Martin claimed at the time that the Finance Bill would address this issue. Clearly Brian Cowen was not listening and the commitment of Martin… must be questioned.”

However, Mr Martin hit back saying the comments of Fine Gael were “over the top and premature”.

“Before we move at all we need to establish the types of supports we can give. I have met with the finance minister on this over the last few weeks and I accept his position. Tax relief or grants have to be within a state aid framework.”

Mr Martin said there was plenty of time as the Docklands project was a 10-year commitment and there was only one significant project on the cards in the next 12 months.

That project is a e1bn, 30-acre development close to Pairc Uí Chaoimh.

Jason Clerken, of Howard Holdings, the developer behind it, said the tax break package was not at the forefront of developers’ minds.

“It’s probably not going to happen in this round, but then it’s all a bit previous because the Local Area Plan has yet to be announced and the Docklands Forum is just starting up,” he said. “The renewal and regeneration of the Docklands will not rest on tax breaks.”

Cork city manager Joe Gavin said the council will continue to press for supports and to work with the relevant officials. “I take satisfaction from the fact those officials we have been working with have indicated a positive disposition so I would be hopeful we will be successful,” he said.

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