I move amendment No. 1:
In page 5, line 15, after "section." to insert the following:
"Preference may be given to industrial undertakings or body corporates that are located in the border counties of Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo.".
My amendment was designed to ensure that Border counties, that is, counties Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim are given priority and preferential treatment, given how exposed these counties will be in the face of Brexit. I will give an example of how it is for towns in the Border region.
My own native town of Drogheda is a prime example of how towns in the Border region have been neglected over the decades in terms of capital and social infrastructure. With Brexit approaching, it leaves us even more exposed than ever. Drogheda, which is the largest town in Ireland, has considerable potential. It is located on the Dublin-Belfast corridor. Its population is highly skilled and it has a dynamic business community. In fact, the Financial Times has identified Drogheda as one of Europe's top ten emerging micro-cities. However, the Government and its agencies do not seem to see that at all. We seem to be always overlooked. Even in the national development plan, we have got nothing. In fact, we were relegated to third-tier status. Media reports some months ago suggested that businesses which had expressed an interest in IDA Ireland parks in Drogheda had been advised to go elsewhere. The Government had taken no action on that whatsoever. I am giving Drogheda as the prime example, because it is typical of small towns and larger towns in the Border region. Towns in the Border region need supports to thrive and the supports they are getting are not anywhere near adequate. They will be left behind again and that is why I put the amendments in.
The amendments are reasonable. They are aimed at targeted supports for the most exposed areas. The Minister of State said a few moments ago that supports are given where there is a demand basis. He does not need me to tell him that the Border regions will be the areas in most demand. That is why I included the amendments that there would be targeted supports for the areas where there will be most demand as we approach Brexit. I hope the Government and other parties will support the amendments.