‘BANTRY is moving in the right direction.’
That was the verdict of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney when he visited the town on Monday.
The minister was in West Cork for a tour of the constituency and to meet business and community representatives in Bantry to discuss the impact Brexit and the war in Ukraine is having on local economies.
‘We had a great meeting in the tourist office, which was full of volunteers,’ said Simon Coveney.
‘I met a lot of the business people there, too, all of whom are looking forward to what everyone hopes will be a strong tourist season because it has been devastating of course over the last two years because of Covid.
‘Bantry,’ according to the minister, ‘is looking better than I have seen it ever before in fact.
‘That is a testament to the focus and the unity of the business people and community leaders within Bantry, and also to the local authority, and the port facilities there.’
The minister commented on the huge level of investment in Bantry, including new units at Bantry General Hospital, the new pier and quayside facilities, and the refurbishment of the square.
The minister also noted that a lot of businesses are investing in their own frontage, too.
‘We had an hour-and-a-half of questions and answers on the cost of living and the war in Ukraine and how that was impacting us here in Ireland, and of course Brexit as well,’ he told The Southern Star.
‘Many see Brexit as something that is far off and a technical political discussion, but actually our trade with the United Kingdom is a hugely important trade for business people in Bantry or anywhere else in this country.
‘We have a trade relationship with the UK that is worth about €90bn a year and lots of small businesses in West Cork are part of that.
‘My job,’ he added, ‘is to ensure that the trade across the Irish Sea between Ireland and Britain remains strong and positive and that we remove any unnecessary barriers to that trade.
‘In order to do that we have to settle all of the remaining Brexit issues, including the Northern Ireland protocol.
‘It was a good discussion with a lot of positivity,’ he added, ‘and in many ways I think Bantry is moving in the right direction.’