A BILLIONAIRE property tycoon looking to construct a brand new city in the Irish countryside is to visit Louth in the coming weeks.
The city, called 'Nextopolis', would be located near Dundalk and would be built over the next five years on a 50km sq site, making it the fifth largest city in Ireland.
Ivan Ko, founder of the Victoria Harbour Group (VHG), is looking to build the new city in order to house tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents looking to flee their home amid China's recent crackdown.
There has been debate over whether the idea would hugely boost the local economy or be dismissed as folly and sci-fi fantasy.
Six locations are reportedly under consideration, the favourite of which is a site between Drogheda and Dundalk near the Northern Irish border.
Ko reportedly pitched a plan for the new city to Irish officials that would include schools that teach in Cantonese and brand new infrastructure linking the city to Dublin Airport.
He argued it would fit the government's desire to develop areas outside the capital.
"We like Ireland," Ko told the Guardian.
"Corporate taxes are very low. You have very strong manufacturing and biomedical companies. Major tech giants have European headquarters there.
"Overall we think Ireland is very good."
While a department of foreign affairs spokesperson confirmed that talks to construct the new city had taken place, it's understood that Irish officials poured cold water on the idea, after initially being approached with the idea late last year.
Problems in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is currently grappling with an uncertain future.
Tensions between the former British colony and China have been rising for over a year ever since China began imposing its will on a number of Hong Kong-based judicial laws.
Mass protests and violent demonstrations have hampered the country since May 2019, and after China announced new national security laws which may argue threaten the freedoms of many Hong Kongers, residents have been expected to emigrate in huge numbers.
The UK and Australia have made special immigration provisions for Hong Kong residents looking to relocate, and Ireland could be about to join the plight, in the most bizarre of ways.
"We are in pursuit of freedom and democracy, which is a little bit similar to the pilgrims and the puritans who left Europe in pursuit of religious freedom," Ko added.