Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, Kevin O’Keeffe criticised both the IDA and Enterprise Minister and Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald for allowing the Fermoy site to remain empty. Ms Fitzgerald said in a parliamentary reply to Mr O’Keeffe that there were no current plans for the site.
Mr O’Keeffe said: “This site was built in 2002, and has been empty ever since. The IDA has supposedly been seeking to attract investment over that time, but it’s clearly not working.”
He said the site should be marketed heavily as being located on the M8, close to Cork City and its universities.
“There are no plans to build any facilities, according to the minister as not having pre-determined layouts should help make the site more attractive. This approach may have been a suitable plan in the past, but it’s clear that 15 years of the park being empty suggests to me than a blank canvass approach isn’t that enticing to investors,” he said.
His party colleague in Cork North Central, Billy Kelleher said the Kilbarry IDA Park was suffering from a lack of proper infrastructure on Cork’s northside, namely the long-mooted northern ring road from Glanmire bypass towards Poulavone in Ballincollig that business leaders have long said would open up the area’s economic potential.
Mr Kelleher said: “The IDA site at Kilbarry has been underutilised for years. It suffers from a lack of access and we urgently need the construction of a northern ring road to open up access to Kilbarry, and other sites on the northside, to attract industrial development. The IDA must start talking to the city and county councils about their infrastructural plans for the northside. Without improved access, the Kilbarry IDA site will continue to see the grass grow and nothing else.”
A spokesperson for the IDA said it was in “regular contact” with the local authorities on Kilbarry, saying improved access would be welcome as it was “an important part of a location’s offering to an FDI company”.
On Fermoy, the IDA said: “IDA continues to market this site to potential investors for manufacturing and internationally traded services. In addition, IDA continues to work closely with its existing clients in Fermoy and the surrounding region to encourage them to expand their operations.”
There are now 33,976 people employed across 154 IDA client companies in Cork — the highest ever recorded.
The IDA is on the hunt for sites to accommodate more large Apple and Amazon style data centres across the country.
It appointed Jacobs Engineering Ireland to identify further strategic sites for the construction of large-scale data centres across the country. Jacobs Engineering Ireland beat nine other firms for the contract. It had estimated the value of the contract would be around €200,000 but the winning bid by Jacobs came in at €53,776.
The task for the company will be to now identify one site for one large data centre in the South-East, the South-West, the Mid-West, the Midlands, the West and the North-West.