By Pádraig Hoare
The Government has come under fire for not marketing regional towns for foreign direct investment after the Department of Business revealed almost the number of available IDA sites far outnumber those occupied.
In a reply to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, Business Minister Heather Humphreys said 99 sites across the country remained available. Just 54 are occupied, Ms Humphreys said.
The sites with availability include more than 20 in Cork city and county, including Kilbarry in the city’s northside, and Fermoy in the county, which has lain idle for more than a decade.
Other Cork towns with available land include Youghal, Kanturk and Carrigtwohill, where the former Amgen site has been idle for a decade after the pharmaceutical giant pulled out of a major multi-million euro investment in the town.
Available sites also feature prominently in Co Dublin, Limerick, Kerry and Galway. There is a range of land not being used in counties such as Mayo, Leitrim and Louth. Mr Collins said blame lay at the feet of Government for its failure to spread high-paying jobs across the country through the targeted use of IDA premises and lands.
“It is evident that the IDA is not maximising its existing stock of buildings and lands to bring well-paying jobs to the regions. The vast majority of the sites lying idle are in counties that have remained stubbornly prone to high unemployment rates despite a growing economy.
“Roscommon, Mayo, and Waterford, for example, all have a number of lands or premises that are lying unused. All three are struggling to attract employment opportunities for their people,” Mr Collins said “
If the Government is serious about its regional Action Plans for Jobs, then it will direct the IDA to do more” and make better use of its existing lands by attracting FDI to the regions.”
In reply, Ms Humphreys said that having such land available for potential FDI was strategic: “The availability of an adequate supply of marketable serviced land and buildings in advance of demand is a key element in the IDA’s ability to compete for mobile foreign direct investment.”