Almost half of all site visits made in Ireland by multinationals looking to set up or expand operations were to the greater Dublin area.
The figures, provided by IDA Ireland, emphasise the regional disparity when it comes to development. The data was provided under a Freedom of Information request. It shows in the first nine months of 2019, there were 541 site visits.
Five counties saw 49% of all visits: Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.
There were 216 visits to sites in Dublin alone, accounting for 39.9% of all visits. This is a relative decline in comparison to 2018, when Dublin saw 44.3% of all visits.
However, despite this decline, Dublin still dwarfs the rest of the country. The second highest number of visits to any one county was Cork, which had 55 visits, about a quarter of Dublin’s.
Counties Leitrim, Longford, Meath, Mayo and Roscommon had three visits or fewer in the first nine months.
Counties Kerry, Monaghan, Offaly and Wexford did not fare much better, with just four visits in that time, while there were just six visits to sites in Tipperary, Cavan and Donegal.
There were 35 visits to Galway (6.5%), 12 to Kilkenny (2.2%), 43 to Limerick (7.9%), 16 to Waterford (3%) and 20 to Clare (3.7%).
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on business, enterprise and innovation Robert Troy criticised the figures. Mr Troy had also requested the data in a parliamentary question.
“It is clear now that the Government are failing to bring balanced regional development to the regions. 40% of all IDA site visits in the first three quarters of this year have been to Dublin, 49% to the greater Dublin area. Five counties, Leitrim, Longford, Meath, Mayo and Roscommon, had three visits or less in the first nine months of the year — Dublin had 216.
“Foreign direct investment acts as a significant engine in the Irish economy by providing highly skilled jobs and indirect employment to local domestic businesses nationwide. Its concentration in the Dublin area is only adding to a two-tier recovery,” he said.
IDA Ireland said site visits are “one measure only in a company’s interest in particular location and may not necessarily be a true measure of the overall level of foreign direct investment activity in a region or county. For example, in 2018, almost 50% of foreign direct investment won by IDA Ireland came from its existing client base, rather than new companies,” they said.
“Also potential clients visiting Ireland may visit more than one county and may return to a location more than once. These figures represent individual visits and are therefore not indicative of the number of companies that have visited,” he said.
The true level of foreign direct investment is better gauged by reference to the IDA’s 2018 Annual Survey results. The agency’s client companies created 22,785 jobs on the ground during the year in a range of sectors and regions.
“In addition, the final decision on where to locate an investment is always decided by the client and not by IDA Ireland.
“Regular engagement and collaboration with stakeholders is important in positioning any regional location to attract foreign direct investment and in this respect, IDA Ireland continues to engage with stakeholders as well as working with existing clients in all regional locations to generate additional jobs,” it said.