Tax incentives in the Finance Act will be crucial to the €2 billion redevelopment of the Cork docklands area but special tax breaks cannot be guaranteed at this juncture, according to Minister for Enterprise Micheál Martin.
Following the inaugural meeting of the Cork Docklands Development Forum in the city, Mr Martin said all tax breaks were subject to discussion but the forum would attempt to get to the "nitty-gritty" of these issues.
He refuted Opposition criticism that tax incentives should have been allocated in the Budget.
"Clearly the Finance Act is where tax changes happen in terms of urban designation. It never happens in a budget."
Mr Martin added: "You can take it that it is the Finance Act that the Department of Finance will be responding to in terms of the submissions that are being made but a number of meetings will be held between obviously the forum and the department."
He dismissed suggestions that the role of the docklands forum was as a type of think tank, saying members would actively work on the issues involved in making the regeneration of the area a reality.
He said the forum's central role was to co-ordinate activities between Cork City Council, local agencies and government departments with a view to implementing the docklands plan.
It is charged with presenting a report by June 2008 but he said members would be working until then to move on some of the pressing concerns.
The forum comprises department officials and community representatives. It will support Cork City Council which is spearheading the development of the docklands which extends both sides of the river Lee from the Port of Cork building to Tivoli on the northern side and Blackrock on the southern side.
The forum, chaired by former UCC president Prof Gerry Wrixon, is being brought together to oversee and drive development of the area.
The objective would be to promote the effective co-ordination and delivery of investment by the State, particularly in roads, water services, port relocation and associated infrastructure to facilitate the docklands regeneration and private investment in the area.
The Irish Times