Wednesday 21 March 2018

IDA is accused of Dublin bias after 12 counties bypassed by investors

Michael McGrath: angry. Photo: Damien Eagers
Michael McGrath: angry. Photo: Damien Eagers

Gordon Deegan

Large swathes of the country are being ignored by foreign investors with 12 counties recording no IDA-sponsored visit by an overseas investor for the first quarter of this year.

The latest figures provided by Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise Richard Bruton show that out of a total of 89 IDA-sponsored visits between January and the end of March this year, 53 of the 89 visits took place in Dublin.

A spokesman for the IDA defended the agency, saying it cannot dictate the locations companies are prepared to consider for new plants.

But Fianna Fail Finance spokesman Michael McGrath TD claimed yesterday that the figures were "further evidence of the Government's failure to put in place balanced regional development at a time when towns and villages around the country are dying on their feet".

He said: "The statistics show that there is a striking bias in favour of Dublin. The figures show that 60pc of the visits this year were to Dublin. It is a remarkable statistic."

Carlow, Kerry, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford all failed to record an IDA-sponsored overseas investor in the first three months of the year.

Cavan, Kilkenny, Meath, and Westmeath recorded one visit each. Clare, Donegal and Wicklow each had two.

The second most popular county for foreign investors to visit in the first quarter was Cork with 10 visits, Limerick recorded six and Galway was visited by four companies hunting for a new base.

The figures for the first quarter represents a continuance of Dublin's dominance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) visits. In 2013 the capital accounted for 55pc of the total 326 IDA sponsored visits.

Mr McGrath obtained the statistics through a written Dail response and he said yesterday that the IDA had a very good track record of attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland "but it is failing by and large to bring overseas investors to counties outside Dublin".

He said: "The IDA has a very important role to play in influencing overseas investors and inform them of the strengths of locating outside Dublin where it is much less costly to do business.

He added: "It is strikingly obvious that more needs to be done to achieve a greater balance in inward investment. The figures don't represent where investment is going, but the reality is, that if you don't show investors areas outside Dublin, they are not going to invest there."

Mr McGrath said the failure to ensure a greater proportion of FDI visits around the country "only leads to a two-tier economy".

Separate figures received by Deputy McGrath show that Dublin-based IDA supported firms received €198.2m or 32pc of the €626.9m IDA aid awarded between 2006 and 2012.

A spokesman for the IDA said yesterday: "A county-by-county breakdown of job creation trends, as is being used here, reveals virtually nothing about how Ireland is performing in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI)."

He said: "Site visits are in no way indicative of IDA's efforts to market a region."

He said total employment at IDA client companies was now at the highest level since the foundation of the agency.

"IDA Ireland works extremely hard to make its client companies aware of the opportunities that exist outside of Dublin," the spokesman said.

"But the decision on where to locate an investment ultimately resides with the client company, despite IDA efforts and financial support available in some regional locations."

He said: "You cannot corral a company to go to a particular part of the country unless it will make sense for their business. IDA Ireland continues to make its clients aware of opportunities to locate their businesses outside of Dublin and Cork.

"This includes designing itineraries in which IDA executives will drive prospective investors around the country to meet with recruitment and property professionals in the regions, as well as existing clients."

Irish Independent

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