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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., at the Official Launch of Heuston South Quarter and the opening of the Eircom Building, Dublin 8, on Monday, 8 December 2008 at 11.30am

 

A dhaoine uaisle,

Is mór agam a bheith anseo inniu i gCeantar Heuston Theas, forbairt den scoth atá ar siúl le roinnt blianta, forbairt lena mbeidh áiteanna cónaithe nua agus gnólachtaí móra sa chuid seo den chathair. Agus mé anseo don searmanas inar cuireadh an píosa deiridh le Foirgneamh Brunel béal-dorais, saothar ailtireachta den chéad scoth a chuirfear i gcrích go luath, ardaíonn sé mo chroí Forbairt Cheantar Heuston Theas a sheoladh go hoifigiúil agus ceanncheathrú nua Eircom a oscailt go hoifigiúil.

Is iontach an léiriú é Ceantar Heuston Theas ar chomhtháthú agus ar inbhuanaitheacht agus meascán saibhir ann de thionóntaí bisiúla agus de spásanna cónaithe, tráchtála agus cultúir. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le gach duine a bhfuil baint acu leis an tionscadal as an bhfís a bhí acu agus guím gach rath air amach anseo.

Introduction

I am delighted to be here with you all today in Heuston South Quarter, a landmark development which will bring new dwellings and major businesses to this part of the city. I am very glad, by the way, to see that it is named after Sean Heuston, one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and a young man of extraordinary courage. It is important that we remember and honour those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Having just performed the topping-out ceremony on the soon-to-be completed Brunel Building next door, it is my great pleasure to officially launch the Heuston South Quarter Development. I also have the honour of officially opening Eircom's new headquarters here in this building.

Eircom
As an anchor tenant in Heuston South Quarter, Eircom is bringing some 1,700 employees to this magnificent, state of the art building. I have just toured the NGX centre and it is fair to say this is one of the most innovative and impressive business centres I have ever visited.

One of the main elements of the Government's economic growth strategy is a focus on high value digital services enterprises. Existing strengths in the traded sector have helped us to attract "household name" Internet enterprises to Ireland. Our increasing know - how and reputation in this area will provide opportunities to position Ireland as a leading location for the development, management and delivery of digital applications.

One of the key building blocks for the knowledge economy is, of course, the widespread availability of high speed broadband networks. After a slow start, our broadband market is now growing rapidly, with over one million subscribers across all platforms.

As the largest provider of wholesale and retail broadband services, Eircom has played no small part in this strengthening market, not least through innovative service offerings for consumers, including bundled broadband and mobile packages by Meteor. Despite current economic difficulties, I understand that Eircom is continuing to upgrade its infrastructure, with a €60m investment in its core network. I would urge Eircom and the other players to continue these welcome and necessary investments. They are clearly key to the knowledge-intensive service activities on which our future prosperity increasingly depends.

JJ Rhatigan and Co.
Heuston South Quarter is a remarkably impressive mixed use development. The developers deserve great credit for the marvellous work they have done here. Established in 1952 by the late John J. Rhatigan, JJ Rhatigan and Co. has offices in four locations around the country, and a portfolio to match. The Heuston South Quarter is only the latest development in the Rhatigan portfolio, which includes the Athlone Town Centre and the new Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Golden Lane here in Dublin, to name just two. It has also constructed significant buildings for high-tech use in universities and Institutes of Technology around the country. HSQ is in good hands.

Heuston South Quarter
New developments need to involve more than just the provision of housing or business parks. It is essential that the development process is an integrated one to include schools, community facilities, employment, transport and amenities and this has to be done in a timely, cost-effective and sustainable manner. Heuston South Quarter is a fine example of the type of sustainable development which reflects these concerns.

The location of the development is second to none. Accessible by major public transport links, it is easy to get to from both far afield, via Heuston Station beside it and from Dublin city centre, by bus and Luas. Along with office accommodation for up to 3,000 occupants, the completed development will include 343 apartments, and a 217 bedroom four-star hotel, with conference facilities and a leisure centre. A full complement of retail outlets including restaurants, coffee shops and fashion retailers and a creche will be anchored by Superquinn Supermarket. There will also be a one acre central landscaped square with market facilities.

Both the Eircom building and the Brunel building contain biomass heating systems, which are carbon neutral by design. Across HSQ as a whole, environmental and sustainable energy concerns have clearly been to the forefront of the developers' minds.

 

The Brunel building with its sweeping glass façade is particularly striking. Anthony Reddy Architects are to be commended for their design and attention to detail. It is fitting that the building is named after the renowned British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, best known for the Great Western Railway linking London to Bristol but who also made his mark here in Ireland. I understand that all of the buildings named so far have some relationship to rail, showing the development's sensitivity to its physical location here beside Heuston Station.

The local area is, of course, rich in history and culture. And the design of the Heuston South Quarter had to take into account the local architecture, not least that of its close neighbour, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. I am glad that, as a condition of the planning permission granted for Heuston South Quarter, Dublin City Council requested the provision of approximately one acre of space for cultural use. The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and the Office of Public Works are currently working with the developer to specify the public cultural use of this space which is to be provided to the State at the cost of €1! In addition, in the retail space, it is envisaged that there will be a second exhibition space which may be used to exhibit designs from the NCAD.

Spaces such as these are an enormous asset to the development, contributing to the cultural and social life, not just of the local area, but the country as a whole.

Conclusion
Heuston South Quarter is one of the most significant developments in Dublin in the last decade. It is also a model for integration and sustainability and heralds the way for future developments.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the project and I wish JJ Rhatigan and Co. every success with its completion. I am delighted to see Eircom setting up its flagship operations here and wish you well in your new corporate offices.

I now declare these offices officially open.

Thank you very much.

ENDS.