On behalf of myself and all of Sligo Chamber council members I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Sligo folk both here and abroad a very happy Christmas and peaceful new year.
2016 was a mixed year, a year in which we celebrated the centenary of our nations independence. While on the international front it was a mixed bag with the surprise Election of Donald Trump in the U.S. while our main trading partner of great Britain voted to leave the E.U., triggering the uncertainty that BREXIT has unleashed. All of which has caused market unease and a weakening sterling exchange rate making retail trading in the border counties even more challenging.
On the positive side, in part due to the troubles in Europe, Ireland is now seen as a safe place to visit and our visitor numbers for 2016 reflect this with our international visits going up by 12% and these number are well reflected locally.
Sligo chamber continue to lobby local and national government on the issue of infrastructure as the North West region has been overlooked for many years when it came to funding, we continue to push for the improvements to connectivity with the East coast, and with some success with the upcoming Collooney – Castlebaldwin upgrade. We are not stopping there however as we have come together with all of the Chambers between here and Mullingar to get the rest of the N4 improved and so far the response has been excellent as we now are the voice of the 500,000 citizens that depend on this road.
We celebrate the announcement that the western distributor road is being advanced, this new road from Caltragh roundabout to the back of Oakfield will unlock IDA owned land that will enable us to attract more employment to our town and in turn we hope to undo the recent de-population of Sligo and the greater northwest region. This coupled with the planned enhancement works on O'Connell street will add a vibrancy to our Town and that in turn will add to what Sligo has to offer and in turn help us in Sligo chamber achieve our aim that is to help Sligo grow.
The recent announcement of funding for the Trail centre in Coolaney will be a great boost for county Sligo’s emerging outdoor adventure tourism product, this new development will be one of Failte Irelands key 'Must-See' activities on Sligo’s piece of the Wild Atlantic way and we look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.
So there we have it, 2016 has been a significant year for both Sligo and Ireland, 2017 will be a challenge but we will continue to meet this challenge head-on and make sure that Sligo is firmly on the map for inward investment for the betterment of our town, county and all of its citizens.
In 2017 Sligo is the European city of volunteering, Sligo chamber council is made up of members of local business who freely and voluntarily give up their time to help in whatever way that they can. We have seen what we can achieve as a community when we all came together for the two successful All-Ireland Fleadhs,
it was a superb experience to be able to show off our town and it’s willing community of Can-do people. Let’s make 2017 a year to remember for all the right reasons. This is Our Sligo, we all have our part to play in its success, and as we have proved in the past – working together we can achieve anything.
From myself and all in Sligo Chamber, Happy Christmas. We hope you and your families enjoy it and have a happy and successful new year. Des Faul
President of Sligo Chamber of Commerce