Big jobs must be brought to small towns – Howlin
The time has long passed for the IDA to start getting big jobs to small towns across Ireland, according to Labour Leader Brendan Howlin who is attending the Ploughing Championships today, as new figures show that rural counties are being left behind when it comes to investment by large companies.
“As Ireland gathers to celebrate the best of our land, the Minister for Jobs and the IDA Ireland are failing to ensure that jobs and investment are being created and located in our small towns where they can make a big impact. More and more announcements are concentrated in our large cities, which are clogging up and facing significant housing shortages.
“We are here in Offaly which has fewer than 1,000 IDA supported jobs, and the figures haven’t grown since 2012. Next door in Laois there are fewer than 100 – the lowest of all counties, despite being home to a population of 85,000 including large towns like Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick. The Midlands has the lowest number of IDA supported jobs of any region, followed closely by the North West and Mid East.
“The Minister must prioritise investment in small towns across our regions but in particular those areas that have not benefited from the Jobs Recovery that Labour delivered since 2011. There is no substitute for infrastructural investment by the State for long term development.
“There is no substitute for advanced factories and offices, high speed broadband, good quality roads and public transport connections. State investment is crticial to secuing foreign investment. The IDA must spearhead this in our small towns.
“Tullamore is famed for it’s whiskey and the distillery returned in 2014. The Irish whiskey industry is rapidly growing, exporting abroad, and delivering skilled jobs in communities across Ireland. It was driven by the success of Cooley Whiskey. That business got started in the 1985 in a former State owned alcohol distillery that was first built in 1937. The unintended consequences and long term benefits of State investment in infrastructure and industry cannot be underestimated. The IDA must examine and re-access it’s models for attracting FDI.
“A good starting point for the IDA would be the creation of a new directorate for rural investment, focussed on securing investment into towns across Ireland.”
The Labour Party leader is accompanied at the Ploughing Championships by Willie Penrose, Jan O’Sullivan, Sean Sherlock, Joanna Tuffy, Denis Landy and Alan Kelly.