Ambitious crossborder roads plan launched by Ibec

In conjunction with Northern Ireland's CBI business organisation...

Employers' group Ibec is calling for major upgrades to the all-island transport network, saying that a "new, concerted and co-ordinated policy response" is required in the face of Brexit.

The employers' group has teamed up with the Northern Irish branch of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to launch the 'Connected' report on the matter today.

It recommends a €12bn programme of upgrades on a phased basis to deal with the island reaching a population of 10 million by 2050.

The reports states that "efficient movement of people, capital, goods and services is crucial to an effective, competitive and modern economy."

The plan would see 85% of the population living within 10km of a motorway or dual carriage-way.

The development of connecting roads between the "Atlantic cities" from Derry to Tralee and Cork would also be involved.

Further north-south routes would be added.

Immediate priorities would include: completing the A5 and A6 connecting Derry and the north-west of the island to Belfast and Dublin; upgrades to the N20 from Cork to Limerick; increasing capacity on the M50; completing the N15 linking Letterkenny to Sligo; and the A5 route extension to Letterkenny.

Talking to Business Breakfast, Ibec's Director of Policy & Corporate Affairs Mary Rose Burke said:

"While Brexit is going to be a challenge for the island, we need to focus on what it is that's within the control of both the adminstration in Northern Ireland but also the government in Ireland to say what do we need to do to react to the challenges posed by Brexit.

"And investing confidently in providing the infrastructure to make the island competitive is what needs to happen.

"We need to really cement, in advance, the progress that has been made since the Good Friday Agreement.

"That needs to be central, that special relationship that Ireland and the UK will have, being the only land border with the EU...

"The imposition of a hard border on the island, we could see would be detrimental to the economy on both sides of that border."