With unemployment in Tralee running at 16% and about 4,000 people on the live register in the area, SIPTU official Andrew McCarthy described the situation as “extremely dire”.
But, while welcoming IT-based enterprises, he said Kerry still had potential for the creation of additional food industries and heavy industry.
He cited Kerry Ingredients and Cadbury Ireland which employ 600 and 100 in Listowel and Rathmore, respectively, as long-established food industries there.
Mr McCarthy also said Liebherr which has a workforce of close to 500 manufacturing container cranes in Killarney, proved heavy industry could be successful in Kerry.
Mr McCarthy said he found it “very puzzling” the IDA was not getting more possible investors to undertake site visits to Kerry.
“It’s the IDA’s responsibility to ensure the country gets inward investment. Kerry should be very attractive, at the moment, with the Kerry Technology Park working closely with the Institute of Technology, in Tralee, and ease of access to Kerry Airport, Cork Airport and Shannon Airport,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group from north Kerry which recently went on an investment-seeking visit to Silicon Valley, California, said Kerry must do more to market itself.
The nine-strong group included Chamber of Commerce representatives from Tralee and Listowel and ITT and Kerry Technology Park representatives.
Fine Gael’s Jimmy Deenihan, who was also in the group, said much more needed to be done to promote Kerry and he was astounded at how little potential investors in California knew about Kerry: “Kerry isn’t being promoted properly and if the IDA won’t do it, then it’s up to us to do it ourselves,” he said.
Tralee chamber president James Clifford said they set out to create awareness of what Tralee and north Kerry had to offer and succeeded in doing that.