The groups said urgent investment is needed to support exports, job creation and business development, as the population of the island increases over the coming years.
The business groups warned that the major challenges created by Brexit demanded a new, concerted and coordinated policy response to mitigate the significant risks it poses to all-island development.
Despite the Brexit vote, all-island investment must remain a priority. The task now is to ensure that vital infrastructure is delivered during this period of uncertainty.
Currently the inter-urban road network needed to ensure the efficient, timely movement of people and goods within, to and from this island, is far from complete.
Many existing routes are currently characterised by congestion and bottlenecks. The report, ‘Connected: A prosperous island of 10 million people’, sets out the following key priorities to complete and deliver a comprehensive all-island motorway/dual carriageway network.
The immediate priorities to include completing routes already in development such as A5 and A6 upgrades to Derry and the entire north-west and the M1/A1 Sprucefield bypass to better link Dublin and Belfast and major upgrades to the N20 from Cork to Limerick; the capacity of the M50; the N15 linking Letterkenny to Sligo and the A5 route extension to Letterkenny.
Mary Rose Burke, director of Corporate, Strategic and International Affairs, Ibec, said: “Infrastructure is the backbone of everyday life, underpinning economic activity. There is no activity that does not rely on infrastructure in some form. But inadequacies in infrastructure are quickly felt by almost everyone. This report outlines investment proposals for strategic infrastructure to enhance all-island connectivity. The result will be a much-improved transport ‘backbone’ that measurably improves everyday life and boosts economic activity, investment and employment across the island of Ireland. Continuing to focus on delivering these needs is especially important given current uncertainties.”
CBI Northern Ireland Director, Nigel Smyth said: “Investment in all-island infrastructure and initiatives must progress with added urgency. Progress has been achieved over the last two decades but we must now set out ambitious plans to complete the connectivity across the island that businesses need. Ibec and the CBI will continue to identify and facilitate investment and funding mechanisms to deliver the ambitious proposal that is put forward by the all-island investment project. Business will rise to the challenge and continue to build on the strong historical cooperative relationship across the island and between the two islands.”