Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Bantry (Cork) Factories.

72.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that factories located in Bantry which got substantial State aid in recent years have now closed down; and, if so, if he will take steps to ensure that other industries are established there.

I am aware of one such undertaking which transferred its operations from Bantry to Cobh recently, and of another which has for some time operated on a reduced scale and employs a smaller number of workers than was originally envisaged. On the other hand, a grant has been approved for the expansion of a third factory in Bantry which is anticipated to yield employment for an additional 25 persons.

As the Deputy is aware the Government provide valuable facilities to encourage the establishment and development of industries in all areas. It is for private enterprise to take advantage of these facilities and it is up to local interests to encourage private enterprise to set up industries in their own areas.

I can assure the Deputy that any sound proposals by local or other interests for the establishment of industries in Bantry will receive all possible assistance from my Department and from the Industrial Development Authority.

Would it be possible for the Minister to state what these particular factories were in Bantry which got substantial State aid and which closed down?

I think so. One was Rowa, Ltd.

Has it closed down?

I am sorry. I have not got the information.

I am surprised if that has closed down.

I do not think I have said they closed down. King Shoes have moved to Cobh from Bantry. Flatley is operating on a reduced scale.

Are Flatley still operating?

Yes. By a process of elimination Rowa must be the one that is expanding.

Is the Minister aware that the factory in Bantry which has closed down got substantial State aid in recent years?

This factory have transferred their operations to Cobh rather than actually closed down. It is still in operation. That is one.

The others have closed down.

Flatley, I gather, are operating on a reduced scale and, as I said, by a process of elimination Rowa must be the one which is expanding.

Are Flatley in the country at the moment?

I do not know. The Deputy had better put down a question about that.

Is it not a fact that this firm got substantial grants to establish a factory?

The one this question refers to.

Which one is the Deputy talking about?

We have asked which factories have closed down. We want full details.

King Shoes closed down in Bantry recently and moved to Cobh.

When the Minister says they closed down, does this mean they closed down or that they transferred? Does this entitle them to new grants?

They transferred their operations to Cobh.

Does that entitle them to new grants?

I should think not. I understand the question about this factory moving is being discussed between the IDA and the firm at the present time.

If there was a loophole it would be a very serious thing that a factory which got a grant for a particular area would close down and then suddenly open up again somewhere else and get another grant. Would the Minister for Defence ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce to investigate this?

I should think the suggestion that a firm by transferring the site of its operation from one place to another would thereby be entitled to a second grant is so obviously unacceptable that it would not happen.

That seems so but the Minister will admit that my colleague, Deputy Michael Pat Murphy, has said that there are factories which were located in Bantry and which got substantial State aid recently have now closed down. He has asked if the Minister is aware of that?

I think the Minister must be aware that this factory is virtually closed down for the last two years, that the amount of employment given in it is infinitesimal—only two or three persons are employed. It is now about time for another look.

Could I ask the Minister to have this investigated?

I understand this transfer is actually under investigation now by the IDA.

That is one. "Factories" are mentioned. There is another factory which has closed down.

My information is that one factory has closed down and another is operating on a reduced level. The third factory is expanding.

Is it expanding in the area?

We are not asking about the one which is expanding.

We are asking about the ones which have closed down.

One has closed down.

Is the Minister suggesting that the statement in this question is wrong? The question asked about factories which got substantial State aid in recent years and have now closed down.

Possibly the Deputy needs to be reminded of the original part of the reply which reads like this:

I am aware of one such undertaking which transferred its operations from Bantry to Cobh recently——

That is one.

——and of another which has for some time operated on a reduced scale and employs a smaller number of workers than was originally envisaged.

That is two.

It closed down. This is a very serious matter.

Should I remind the Deputy it is by agreement on this side of the House that we are continuing after 5 o'clock with replies to questions?

The Chair has called Question No. 73 on three occasions.

On the other hand, a grant has been approved for the expansion of a third factory in Bantry which is anticipated to yield employment for an additional 25 persons.

That is Rowa.

That is a very good defence.

A very witty remark.