Most of the area’s councillors rounded on the state agency for its failure to attract foreign investment and industry. Councillors from all main parties, along with independents, highlighted concerns about a migration crisis in West Cork due to a lack of jobs.
Elected representatives issued an invite to IDA Ireland representatives to address issues with them, in County Hall. Several county councillors insisted IDA Ireland “had no interest in bringing industries to West Cork”. However, they did accept IDA Ireland recently sought a site to be rezoned in Skibbereen to accommodate a proposed new plastics manufacturing project.
An Irish-American family with very strong links to the region approached the county council and the IDA to get a site rezoned from agricultural to industrial in the hope of building a plant which will employ up to 50 people.
The family already own 18 factories worldwide and locating one in Skibbereen would be a huge boost for the town, councillors said.
The land has now been rezoned by the council and while the IDA’s involvement was welcomed in this case, Skibbereen-based Councillor Joe Carroll (FF) said, overall, he didn’t believe the IDA was doing its best for West Cork. “Down the line we’ll become the outback. They (IDA) could say there is no workforce there (West Cork). There would be a workforce if there was work in Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Bantry and Castletownbere,” he said.
Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) agreed with his colleague while Declan Hurley (Ind) said it was great to see a family who had left West Cork years ago offering to provide investment locally. However, he questioned the IDA’s willingness to push West Cork. “Dunmanway has lost 300 jobs from three major industries in the last 10 years and there’s now an outward migration of people to get work elsewhere. We need answers from the IDA,” he said.
Paul Hayes (SF) said the N71, the main road servicing West Cork, was a major impediment to future development of the region due to it being in such a poor state.
“We don’t want towns in West Cork to turn into commuter towns with people driving out of them to go to Cork City in the morning and only returning at night,” he added.
Mary Hegarty (FG) said that if IDA Ireland did show more interest in West Cork, there would be pressure on other bodies to improve infrastructure.