Drogheda’s designation as part of an ‘important cross-border networks for regional development’ in the Project 2040 plan will count for nothing unless land is acquired and jobs secured for the town and the wider south Louth region.
That is according to Labour TD for Louth Ged Nash who has lambasted comments from Tanaiste Leo Varadkar last week that there were no plans to build advance techhnology buildings in Drogheda.
In a response to a parliamentary question posed by Deputy Nash, Mr Varadkar said while he and the IDA remained committed to attracting high quality investment to both Louth and the neighbouring border counties, there were no immediate plans to build advance facilities in the town to cater for foreign direct investment.
Deputy Nash made particular reference to the north of the town, given the Donore Road business park is set to be taken over in its entirety by the Amazon data centre.
“Whilst there are currently no plans in place by the IDA to construct advanced facilities in Drogheda, the Agency continues to review its property and land portfolio on an ongoing basis, in line with the strong emphasis it places on FDI in regional Ireland,” Deputy Varadkar said in response.
“In addition, the IDA continues to engage with local stakeholders in Drogheda and maintains an updated inventory of private sector greenfield sites zoned for development, available office accommodation and flexible working spaces.”
He made reference to the new building at the Finnabair Business Park in Dundalk and said Drogheda and Louth was “in a competitive position to compete for mobile FDI”. But Deputy Nash was unimpressed.
“This is a case of ‘meet the new government – same as the old government,” he said in a statement. “Drogheda will never realise its full potential as a location for the quality foreign direct investment jobs we know we can attract unless government takes the bull by the horns and invests in the property solutions we need.
“Leaving it to the private sector to develop advance units is a nonsense. Now that the business park on the Donore Road will be at capacity with the Amazon development, Drogheda will have no designated IDA owned space to accommodate investment.”
“The designation of Drogheda as a ‘development centre’ under the new Ireland 2040 development plan is utterly meaningless if it is not followed by State-led investment and jobs.
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“I have contacted the IDA to seek a meeting with its property director to again make the case for the development of Agency-owned office space and a new business park for Drogheda, ideally based on the north side of the town in proximity to the Northern Port Access Route & M1.”
According to the IDA, Louth has experienced year-on-year increases in employment by IDA client companies since 2012, with 486 net new jobs created in 2019. There are now 29 IDA client companies in the county employing over 4,400 people.