As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 27 March 2014, the Regional Aid Guidelines enable the State's industrial development agencies to pay grants, at enhanced rates, to businesses in order to support new investment and new employment in productive projects in Ireland's most disadvantaged regions. This helps the convergence of these regions with the more advantaged regions of the Union. All such grants come from the exchequer, i.e. there is no EU or other external funding.
During the Regional Aid Guideline process thus far, my Department has consulted relevant stakeholders including various Government Departments, the industrial development agencies, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Forfás, the Central Statistics Office, the Border Midland and Western Regional Assembly, the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly, and the eight Regional Authorities.
It will not be possible to include all regions in the map. Instead, qualifying regions up to a maximum of 51.28% of the total population can be included. My officials have compiled the most up to date economic data for each region and county, including Kerry, in order to determine which areas will qualify for inclusion in a revised Regional Aid Map for Ireland. Relevant data includes comparative unemployment levels and GDP by county.
My Department has issued the proposed Regional Aid Map for Ireland to the Commission for consideration and approval. It would be inappropriate to disclose the contents of this submission until the Commission has finalised its consideration of the matter.
It is important to note that all of the Country, including those areas not entitled to Regional Aid, can qualify for other forms of State investment e.g. Research & Development Aid, SME Investment Aid, Training Aid, and Aid for Environmental protection etc.