However, the State agency has insisted it is making every effort to showcase regional Ireland abroad, following criticism that rural towns are not seeing enough of the record foreign direct investment.
In today’s Irish Examiner, Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the body tasked with attracting foreign companies, writes that while he is “acutely aware” of the need for jobs from foreign companies in rural towns, “it remains a challenge to convince international investors to consider locations outside of Dublin and the larger urban areas”.
Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has called on the Government to assist the IDA in bringing investment to rural towns after it was revealed that just 55 of 154 IDA sites across the country are occupied. Almost 20 sites in Cork city and county have vacancies, including Kilbarry on the city’s northside, and a site in Fermoy that has lain idle for nearly two decades.
The Fermoy site, which saw millions pumped in before its opening in a blaze of publicity in 2002, is fully serviced but has no clients.
Councillor Noel McCarthy said it is now used as a place for people to walk their dogs.
“It is sad that in almost 20 years, there hasn’t been a soul in there,” he said.
“It cannot go on indefinitely. Cities are getting first go when it comes to IDA visits but towns cannot be left out altogether.”
The former Amgen site in Carrigtwohill in East Cork has lain idle for more than a decade after the pharmaceutical giant pulled out of a plan to invest €1bn that would have created more than 1,000 jobs.
Youghal has seen a large number of foreign-owned manufacturing companies leave the town since 2000, with thousands of jobs lost.
Councillor Mary Linehan Foley said: “We, like many rural towns, feel like we have been forgotten about. Look, we know the heady days of 500 people employed in one factory have gone forever, but surely there is room to encourage four or five industries with 40-50 employees. Even 20 employees — all those jobs add up and help mould a great community.
“We cannot just accept that we have lost out forever; we are willing to fight for those jobs if we are assisted.”