Fianna Fáil accuses IDA of focusing on the capital
Site visit data from the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has underlined the overwhelming industrial focus on Dublin and the eastern seaboard with Opposition politicians claiming "a mockery" was now being made of balanced regional development.
Fianna Fáil claimed it was clear proof of an unspoken "two-tier" recovery in Irish industrial development.
New statistics, released by the IDA via a Dáil query, revealed 209 site visits by potential investors were made in Dublin between January and September this year - a startling 45pc of all IDA site visits hosted by potential investors.
A whopping 71pc of visits over the same period were to just four counties - Dublin (209), Cork (45), Galway (42) and Limerick (25).
Alarmingly, six counties had just three or fewer site visits. Three - Cavan, Monaghan and Wicklow - had a single site visit and no visits in two quarters. Longford, Roscommon and Wexford had three or less visits.
Tipperary, one of Ireland's biggest counties, had just four IDA site visits in nine months.
Fianna Fáil enterprise spokesman Billy Kelleher said the statistics raised serious questions about Government policy.
"The Government's claim that it is delivering good quality jobs to regional communities, in a balanced fashion, just doesn't add up," he said. "Worryingly, 10 counties had one or less IDA site visit in quarter three this year, which covers July to September."
However, Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys warned the statistics cannot be analysed in isolation.
"Site visit activity does not necessarily reflect investment potential, as almost 70pc of all new foreign direct investment comes from existing IDA client companies," she said.
"Site visits nevertheless do represent an important tool through which investors can be encouraged to invest in regional areas and the IDA always does its utmost to ensure that investors consider all potential locations when visiting Ireland."
The IDA pointed out 19,851 jobs were created last year thanks to foreign direct investment (FDI) - with almost 211,000 jobs within the IDA-supported portfolio nationwide. This year is expected to match or slightly surpass 2017 figures.
"A county-by-county site-visit breakdown of job creation trends reveals virtually nothing about how Ireland is performing in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI)," an IDA spokesperson said.
"IDA markets regional gateways to foreign investors, not individual counties, so reliance on county-by-county data alone presents a distorted and incomplete picture."