I regret very much the announcement by Imperial Stag Ltd., Listowel, that 28 employees are to be made redundant. The company has stated that its decision was based on a decline in demand for its products and strong competition from the Far East, putting the company in an increasingly tighter position in terms of overall costs. IDA Ireland will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide every assistance to the company. FÁS has already been in contact with the company and offered to make available its full range of support services to the workers affected with a view to finding alternative employment.
IDA Ireland continues to actively promote Kerry to potential investors from across the sectors in either manufacturing or international services via its network of overseas offices and project divisions, with every effort being made to secure new investments for the area. In addition to targeting potential new projects, the State development agencies continue to work with the existing base of companies in the region, with a view to supporting such companies with potential expansions and diversification of activities.
In February 2004, Shannon Development launched plans for a business development centre in Listowel involving an investment of almost €1.7 million. The building, which will be located in a two acre site at Listowel Business Park, will mark a departure in the style of premises available to indigenous start-up businesses in the area.
The State development agencies participate in the Listowel Development Group, an initiative which brings together all of the resources relevant to the promotion of Listowel and includes the key development agencies for the region, together with representatives of local industry. A key function of the group was to secure a tenant or project for the BES building in the town. I understand that a tenant has now been found for the building.
The major decentralisation programme announced in the budget includes 50 jobs to be relocated to Listowel and a further 165 jobs for Killarney. This move demonstrates the Government's commitment to balanced regional development and will provide a further boost to enterprise development in Kerry. I will be glad to discuss the job situation in Listowel with the relevant interests during my next visit to the area.