WEXFORD received fewer visits from the IDA than any other county in the South East this year, it has emerged. In response to a parliamentary to Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil TD James Browne was told that Wexford has received just two visits from the IDA in 2017. The next lowest in terms of visits was six for Kilkenny, followed by seven for Carlow and Tipperary and nine for neighbouring Waterford.
Tasked with attracting foreign investment into Ireland, it was hoped the IDA would take an interest in Wexford as part of the government's pledge to drive jobs creation in the South East. However the figures provided for Deputy Browne make for stark reading with Wexford receiving just one third of the visits that the next lowest county received.
The Wexford TD asked the Minister to release the IDA figures and make a statement, given the fact that the unemployment rate in the South East is still 2.5% above the national average. While the Minister did provide the figures, she seemed to somewhat dodge the question by lumping the South East Region in with the Mid West (Tipperary North, Clare and Limerick) in her answer, an area which has enjoyed decent growth.
She said that an additional 33.600 people were in employment in the South East by the end of quarter two of this year, but this was in comparison to the end of quarter one in 2012 - five years ago.
'While significant progress has been made in reducing unemployment in both areas,' she said. 'More work remains to be done. That is why IDA Ireland continues on a daily basis to highlight the benefits of expanding or relocating in these regions to its client base in order to boost job creation further.'
Deputy Browne believes that Wexford has continuously been ignored in recent years and something needs to change.
'Two visits to Wexford is just tokenism,' he said. 'It's visiting just to say they've been here. Wexford has been completely ignored by the IDA and the South East Region still lags behind the rest of the economy. There are a number of factors in this. Lack of a University is one. Lack of a senior government Minister in the South East is another and then you've a complete lack of support for the IDA.'
Deputy Browne was also somewhat confused by the Tánaiste throwing Wexford in with the Mid West.
'Those areas aren't even accessible to the people of Wexford by motorway,' he said. 'Jobs there are of absolutely no relevance to people in Wexford. They might as well be in Timbuktu! It's somewhat bizarre that the Minister would bring up the Mid West. It's completely irrelevant.'