KILKENNY is still near the bottom of the priority list when it comes to IDA potential investor visits, new figures have revealed.
Over the last 10 years, the county has had only eight such visits. In the same period, Cork has had 221 visits, Louth received 85, and Limerick 65.
The figures released today, in response to a Sinn Fein Dail question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, show that Kilkenny is 22nd out of the 26 counties in terms of IDA activity. Last year and the year before, there was not a single visit to the county.
While this year has shown an increase on Kilkenny’s 2011 figures (from zero visits to three), neighbouring Waterford has had 12 visits already in 2012, up from 11 last year.
Local Sinn Fein Councillor Kathleen Funchion has condemned what she says is the failure of successive governments to work for the people of Kilkenny.
“It is clear that having a minister from this constituency is of little use if the political will is not there to provide for their constituents,” said Cllr Funchion.
“This has happened on the watch of John McGuinness when he was Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and continues now with Minister Phil Hogan. Be it Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, they have systematically failed the people of Kilkenny in relation to job provision, preferring instead to hammer people with unjust taxes and swingeing cuts to pay back the debts of their banking and speculator cronies.”
The data also shows that the overall number of investor visits across the State has fallen dramatically.
In 2010 the IDA hosted 426 visits, many of them now at the stage of realising their investments. However, by 2011, the IDA had sponsored 341 visits – and this year to date the number of visits has tumbled to 239.
Figures released earlier in the year revealed that there were just three IDA-supported companies in Kilkenny, compared to 31 in neighbouring Waterford and 12 in Wexford. There were also just 399 IDA-supported jobs in the city and county, compared to over 4,500 in Waterford and more than 3,000 in South Tipperary alone.
“While the government trumpet FDI investment recently they need to reverse the reduction of future FDI provision,” said Cllr Funchion..
“Proactive regional promotion has worked in the past. It is of utmost importance that the government direct the IDA to ameliorate the regional disparities and invest in communities hardest hit by unemployment.”