Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams says that the amount of jobs created by the IDA in Louth and other border counties are “miserly” and “deeply depressing” – at a time when there is a concerted push from within Ardee to try and attract foreign direct investment to the area.
Earlier this year, stakeholders from across Ardee – including councillors, business owners, planners, engineers, teachers and community workers – met with Minister Damien English for a meeting to discuss how a town like Ardee can attract big companies to set up in the area.
Ardee has long since suffered without much in the way of major international industry in the town and Deputy Adams today voiced his concerns over how much IDA investment Louth and other counties on the border were getting.
Accoridng to Adams, figures provided by the Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor raises real concerns about the disparity in distribution of such jobs across the state but especially in the border regions.
“Border counties fare particularly badly in the provision of IDA supported jobs and with the Brexit already having an adverse impact on the economy, that situation could get worse without proper planning and funding by government,” Adams said in a statement.
The Sinn Fein leader says that serious gaps have been identified in the provision of IDA backed jobs across the state based on responses party colleague Maurice Quinlivan received to Parliamentary Questions.
“When analysed and set against the recent census population numbers, it emerged that there is one IDA supported job for every 23 citizens in the state. However, this statistic varies significantly depending on where you live. For example, Galway and Cork top the list for most IDA jobs per capita, with one job for every 15 people, followed by Dublin with one job for every 16 people.
“The disparity for Monaghan is one job for every 447 people. For Donegal it is one job per 52 people. Cavan is one job per 63 people. Louth is one job for 35 people. Sligo is one job for every 28 people.
Adams says counties like Louth, Monaghan, Donegal, Cavan and Sligo are much, much worse off than other parts of the country. He says the figures show that 9,000 IDA jobs were brought to Dublin last year – compared to just 453 in Louth.
Whilst the number of jobs linked to foreign direct investment in Louth pales in comparison to bigger cities around the country, others get virtually nothing in the way of job creation. “In Sligo the net gain[last year] was 190. In Cavan it was 41. In Leitrim it was 3. In Donegal it was 145. While in Monaghan ,the number of IDA jobs created in 2016 was seven.”
“That means the six acknowledged border counties secured a miserly net gain of 839 IDA supported jobs out of 18,627 IDA backed jobs across the state in 2016,” he continued.
“The IDA does huge work in creating new jobs. Over the decades it has proven itself to be an invaluable agency in attracting investment into the state. However, there is a huge imbalance in the distribution of these jobs across the state. The responsibility for this must rest with the government. It must ensure that investment and jobs are evenly distributed throughout the state and especially between large urban centres and rural and border regions.
“Border counties fare particularly badly in this analysis and, with Brexit already having an adverse impact on the economy, that situation could get worse without proper planning and funding by government.”
While visiting Ardee back in January, Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal English noted that there were an awful lot of areas that don’t fulfil the brief for IDA-like investment because they don’t have the skilled workers for the required job, saying that there was a generational gap and acklowledging it needed to be filled.
However, with a close proximity to Drogheda and Dundalk and easy access to Belfast and Dundalk, Ardee is a prime location for potential big buisness investment. The two larger towns in Louth already have secured significant FDI investment.