I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 315 together.
I have been informed by IDA Ireland that, in the five year period 2008 to 2012, there were three IDA job announcements for County Kerry with the potential to create 155 jobs. During the same period, there were two Enterprise Ireland investment announcements with the potential to create 41 jobs and nine High Potential Start Up (HPSU) projects announced for county Kerry. For reasons of commercial sensitivity, it is not possible to give details of the job potential of these HPSU projects.
At the end of 2012 there were 12 IDA Ireland supported companies in Kerry employing 1,600 people, while Enterprise Ireland had 132 client companies in the county employing 3,318 people.
In relation to the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to County Kerry, IDA Ireland has indicated that the challenge it faces is to continue to win top quality investment for Ireland in a very challenging global environment. International competition for FDI has become extremely intense and continues to increase. Leading global corporations require a significant population pool, access to qualified talent, world class physical and digital infrastructure as well as the availability of sophisticated professional and business support services. IDA Ireland, however, tries to influence these choices by prioritising the marketing of Gateway locations within each Region as the locations of critical mass with sufficient scale of population, skills, infrastructure, companies, business services, etc. and highlights the opportunities provided by Hub locations which are within commuting distances of these Gateways. With continuing enhancement and improvements in physical and digital infrastructure, an FDI project secured for one Gateway can have a positive impact on other Gateways and their surrounding areas. It must be acknowledged, however, that the decision on where a client company will locate a new FDI investment is ultimately made by the senior managers of the companies involved.
I am mindful of the concerns that have been expressed by Deputies on all sides of the House about the relatively low level of site visits to certain regional locations and have raised this matter with the CEO of IDA Ireland with a view to exploring what further initiatives can be taken to influence potential investors to invest in such locations.
I am mindful, also, that in order to ensure that Ireland can continue to compete globally for foreign direct investment, it will be necessary to undertake an in depth analysis of our FDI strategy with a view to informing the formulation of an appropriate strategy for the period post 2014, when IDA Ireland’s current strategy is implemented. This analysis, which will be undertaken later this year, will take account of factors such as key trends emerging in FDI best practice internationally, Ireland’s strengths in attracting FDI, any changes to the EU’s State Aid rules that may be introduced in the near future and our agreed approach to regional development.
Notwithstanding these challenges, IDA Ireland has assured me that it will in 2013, in accordance with the Government’s 2013 Action Plan for Jobs, seek to target more than 130 new investments, secure €500 million of R&D expenditure and create 13,000 new jobs in its client companies.