Cork county councillors are demanding that senior IDA officials address their concerns about the lack of progress in establishing industries on 230 hectares of vacant land which the IDA owns at 14 locations around the county.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn won widespread support from colleagues when he claimed the IDA was only concentrating its on certain areas of the country and demanded its officials come to County Hall and outline what plans they have for the local sites.
He said there had been considerably less visits to vacant IDA sites in the Cork region in the past two years, compared to the Dublin area.
“We have a number of vacant sites in key locations,” said Mr O’Flynn. “In Fermoy, there’s a site adjacent to the [Cork-Dublin M8] motorway and it’s fully serviced with electricity, water, roads, broadband, etc.
“The only time it was ever used was as a car park for a point-to-point meeting.”
The IDA took over the Fermoy site from the Department of Defence a number of years ago when a decision was made to close the army barracks there, Fitzgerald’s Camp.
It was closed along with a number of other army barracks around the country as part of a major rationalisation of Defence Forces’ installations.
The IDA’s main vacant landbanks are in Ringaskiddy (149.32 hectares) and Carrigtwohill (two sites of 64.23 hectares). These are some of the largest IDA landbanks in the country.
The IDA also owns two, far smaller, vacant sites each in Youghal, Fermoy and Kanturk and single sites in Charleville, Bandon, Skibbereen, Kinsale, and Millstreet.
He said the figures on vacant IDA sites were supplied to him from a copy of a question which was answered in the Dáil earlier this year by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphries.
Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Coughlan said: “The IDA seems to be pushing just a few key hubs around the country. I recently attended a briefing by the Government on the 2040 plan, which showed [industrial] development around the city and east Cork, but nowhere else.
“The IDA owes it to the people to provide jobs in other areas.”
Her party colleague, Gearoid Murphy, said the IDA should be looking at using the sites to build up indigenous industries, if it can’t attract foreign direct investment into some of its sites around the county.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hegarty said he agreed with asking the IDA to attend a meeting but proposed that representatives from Enterprise Ireland should also be invited to attend.
Mr O’Flynn said he was also in favour of that.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey would not be drawn on what he thought of IDA activities in the county.
However, he said he would ensure the council writes to the IDA and Enterprise Ireland requesting they send officials to a forthcoming meeting in County Hall to address councillors’ concerns.
“We need to move now, otherwise we will be left behind,” said Mr O’Flynn. “We need industries in our smaller towns. This is essential for rural regeneration.”
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