Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to bring the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018 before the Dáil. This short, but important Bill addresses the implications of a 2015 Supreme Court judgment and will ensure that IDA Ireland can continue to purchase property for the purposes of industrial development. This is essential if the agency is to have the continued capacity to provide the property solutions to companies that will help attract future investments to Ireland, particularly to the regions, and therefore generate jobs throughout the country.

I intend to begin by explaining how the need for this Bill has arisen, then describe its provisions in more detail, and finally provide further context as to why the legislative amendments are important to IDA Ireland's ongoing work to increase foreign direct investment in Ireland. Let me start by explaining the genesis of the Bill. In 2011, IDA Ireland sought to acquire land in County Kildare, by compulsory purchase, for industrial development purposes. It is important to note that this was the first and only time IDA Ireland had ever sought to purchase property compulsorily and, in doing so, the agency relied on the existing compulsory purchase powers it had been furnished with in legislation. The landowner concerned, however, successfully challenged the compulsory purchase order by way of judicial review.

There were two key findings in the Supreme Court judgment. First, the Supreme Court determined that the agency had acted ultra vires because the legislative provision on which it relied in this instance, namely, section 16 of the 1986 Industrial Development Act, does not empower IDA Ireland to acquire property for future, as opposed to immediate, use. The court also set aside the compulsory order because IDA Ireland did not, as per the terms of that legislative provision, identify a specific company for which the property was being acquired. The court made clear that both of those determinations would apply equally to instances where property was being acquired by agreement. While the facts of the case concerned a compulsory acquisition, the court's judgment also, therefore, had implications for IDA Ireland's purchasing-by-agreement powers. Second, the court determined that current legislation does not provide for an independent body, such as An Bord Pleanála, either to affirm any proposed compulsory purchase order or to adjudicate on any objections to such an order. It followed from the judgment, therefore, that it is necessary that an appropriate independent body be legislatively designated to fulfil that particular role.

The Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018 that I present to the House addresses each of those issues in full, as I will shortly explain in more detail. I want to be clear as well, before moving on, that while this Bill addresses those issues raised by the court, it does not equip IDA Ireland with strengthened powers. The aim is simply to put in place an updated and modernised process that incorporates a full role for An Bord Pleanála in compulsory acquisitions so that IDA Ireland retains its current industrial development property purchasing powers. This Bill's provisions do not, therefore, represent a policy shift in terms of IDA Ireland's approach to purchasing property.

I will now give an overview of the Bill to the House, bearing in mind that I have already explained that this is a relatively short and technical Bill. First, the Bill ensures that IDA Ireland will continue to have the capacity to acquire property compulsorily on an exceptional basis in very limited circumstances and subject to strict requirements. Any such compulsory purchase will be subject to far more stringent requirements than those for standard purchase by agreement, namely, that it must be for immediate industrial development use and that IDA Ireland will need to have a specific client in mind to use the property.

As per the terms of the Supreme Court judgment, provision has been also made in the Bill for an independent body, which is An Bord Pleanála, to undertake a full adjudicatory role in the process, a role that is very much aligned to its existing role in compulsory purchases carried out by other State bodies. Second, the draft bill will ensure that IDA Ireland can continue purchasing property by agreement, even when it is for future use and no specific company has been identified as the beneficiary of that acquisition.

I will now describe how these amendments will function in more detail. In summary terms, the Bill amends section 16 and the Second Schedule to the 1986 Industrial Development Act and also applies certain provisions of the Housing Act 1966 in relation to compulsory purchases, and certain provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 in respect of the role of An Bord Pleanála. Sections 3 and 4 of the Bill amend section 16 of the Industrial Development Act 1986 and make it very clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that IDA Ireland can continue to acquire property by agreement, that is, not compulsorily, in circumstances where the property is not for immediate use, and whether or not a specific industrial undertaking has been identified in advance. Many Members will be aware that the agency has always operated on this basis when purchasing land by agreement with landowners, so this does not represent a change or a new departure in any respect. Sections 5 and 6 of the Bill provide that IDA Ireland will only be permitted to purchase land compulsorily in circumstances where it is required for immediate, as opposed to future use, and a specific undertaking has been identified. Section 6 provides that the compulsory purchase powers are to be used in accordance with the existing and well-established compulsory purchase processes set out in the Housing Act 1966. The Bill also provides that compulsorily acquired land can only be leased, as opposed to sold, by IDA Ireland to an industrial undertaking. This important safeguard serves to ensure that land that has been compulsorily purchased is put to immediate industrial development use, whilst ultimately remaining in State ownership. Section 7 of the Bill applies some of the existing provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as it provides for a full role for An Bord Pleanála as an independent body to affirm compulsory purchase orders made by IDA Ireland. In addition, the legislation provides an adjudication role to An Bord Pleanála with regard to objections related to a compulsory acquisition. As I emphasised earlier, the role assigned to An Bord Pleanála in any future IDA Ireland compulsory purchase closely mirrors its existing role in compulsory purchases earned out by a wide range of other State bodies.

I will now finally expand further on the policy and operational context to the Bill. Given the critically important work IDA Ireland carries out, particularly in terms of trying to support regional development, it is essential that no legal uncertainty, no matter how small, attaches to its property purchasing powers. Otherwise we risk diminishing the agency’s capacity to attract further foreign direct investment and generate new employment opportunities across the country. The availability of industrial property in suitable locations is, of course, a key factor in encouraging multinational companies to locate here. A vital aspect of IDA Ireland’s work therefore remains, as has been the case for many years, connecting those firms with property solutions. To be able to do that effectively, IDA Ireland needs the continued capacity to purchase properties so that they can be offered to potential investors. This means that IDA Ireland must have the capacity to buy property, for the purposes of industrial development, in situations where it may not be required for immediate use and where a specific company has not yet been identified as the ultimate beneficiary. This is especially important in the context of the agency’s work to increase foreign direct investment in rural and regional locations, given that the vast majority of IDA Ireland property purchases are outside of the country’s main urban areas.

As regards the compulsory purchase element, while IDA Ireland very rarely employs its compulsory acquisition powers - as I mentioned earlier, it has only ever done so once - it is important that it retains its statutory power to do so if the agency is to be able to meet its mandate. Without compulsory purchase powers, IDA Ireland could potentially miss out in the future on extremely significant investment opportunities that could have a transformative impact or effect on a local community in terms of jobs created.

I will close by emphasising again that regional development is one of the key priorities of this Government, of my Department and of IDA Ireland. We are committed to doing everything we can to both sustain and create employment opportunities all over Ireland and IDA Ireland has a huge role to play in that work. That is why this Bill is particularly important and I am therefore asking this House to support this legislation.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill this evening. Fianna Fáil supports the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018 in order to ensure continued foreign direct investment and jobs growth in Ireland which is hugely important to this country and its economy. The Bill enhances IDA Ireland's power to compulsorily purchase order land for immediate industrial use. That is only to be welcomed. It will help reduce and eliminate the barriers we have seen in recent cases.

Foreign direct investment is pivotal in providing over 200,000 IDA Ireland-supported jobs in our economy. IDA Ireland estimates that for every ten jobs generated by foreign direct investment, a further seven jobs are generated in the wider economy. In my own constituency in Kildare North, one can see the success stories of Intel and Hewlett Packard, and there are many other examples throughout Ireland. This is the reason we must eliminate what barriers exist in order to make Ireland a more attractive country for foreign direct investment.

At a time of increased global competition, we need to ensure that we have a planning system which enables this continued investment in a timely manner, when companies wish to establish themselves or to expand their Irish operations. We must look at the context in which that happens. We must be attractive as a country to come to and do business in. We have an exceptionally talented workforce. It is very highly skilled, extremely flexible and is acknowledged as having a very positive and can-do attitude. Workers are self-motivated and self-driven. There are many positive reasons foreign companies wish to set up in our country and our workforce is pivotal in that decision.

The Government has to deal with a planning system that is not fit for purpose, which has detrimentally influenced foreign direct investment. It is important that that is dealt with swiftly and properly. The long-running saga to get planning approval for the €850 million Apple data centre in Athenry is a case in point. It is a good example of how our out of date planning laws proved a barrier to this company setting up in Athenry, which would be of massive benefit to the local area, the wider region and everyone who lives there. It is very concerning that this huge investment will not now proceed, and that the company has now decided to build a second data centre in Denmark. During his visit to California, the Taoiseach was unsuccessful in securing a commitment on this project which was unfortunate for Ireland and the region. This Bill addresses one part of the issue there. It is important that when the issues are highlighted and identified that we move swiftly and correctly to deal with them in a practical, pragmatic and rational way for the benefit not only of Ireland and everyone already in it but also for those who come here to work.

Fianna Fáil has introduced legislation in the Dáil to fast-track the planning process for large-scale IT infrastructure projects such as data centres. The Government must work with us and with others to secure further job growth in this sector because it is a sector that will develop further and be very big in future. We can see how much it is already growing.

The Bill addresses the legal difficulties encountered previously by the IDA in acquiring land for the Intel corporation in Leixlip, County Kildare, in my own constituency. This transpired in what was known as the Reid case, in which the IDA tried to purchase a 72 acre farm next to the Intel plant from the farmer Thomas Reid. While the High Court approved the compulsory purchase order, CPO, in 2013, Mr. Reid claimed that this had breached his property rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights. On referral to the Supreme Court in 2015, the court ruled in his favour that the IDA has exceeded it power and declared that the agency's CPO mechanisms were outdated. That is another backdrop as to why we are speaking on this Bill and supporting it here this evening.

This is a recent example, along with that of the Apple data centre in Athenry, of our out-of-date planning system which has the potential to prevent foreign direct investment into Ireland. As I have said, when foreign direct investment companies set up in any region it is a positive and brings jobs. It brings a buzz, action and activity to the local area, which might not see employment or activity otherwise. That is part and parcel of the need to develop infrastructure to support foreign direct investment outside of Dublin and the greater Dublin area and to bring it to the midlands, the north west, the south, the south east and all of the different areas. We need to make these areas attractive for foreign direct investment so that it can assist positively in those local economies by giving employment locally in the regional economy. This of course feeds back positively into the national economy. It is important that we work on the basis that such investment be based in all areas and all regions. We need to work in a way that allows that to take place.

Concerns have been expressed by landowners regarding compulsory purchase of land by State agencies. The new powers conferred on the IDA in this Bill will only allow it to compulsorily purchase land for immediate use. That is important for people who might have an interest in this and who might have concerns. It is for immediate use rather than for use for industrial development. It is not for forward planning, it is for immediate use. Land acquired by CPO can only be leased while An Bord Pleanála, as an independent body, will confirm IDA CPOs and arbitrate on objections related to any compulsory acquisition. There is an independent process there. It is important that landowners are not fearful of this. It is for positive and immediate use.

The objectives of this Bill address, in our view, the issues raised by the judgment in Reid v. IDA and Ors. and the Bill ensures that IDA Ireland has a sound legal basis to continue to carry out its property functions, which is very important. The Bill seeks to apply certain provisions of the Housing Act 1966 and the Planning and Development Act 2000 in order to provide for An Bord Pleanála to affirm a compulsory purchase order and adjudicate on any objections which might arise.

Intel's plans for expansion in Leixlip are a perfect example, as we have discussed. Intel is a fantastic success story for both my own constituency of Kildare North and for Kildare generally. It has firmly put Ireland on the map. It employs 4,500 people on its site in Leixlip. That is a major contribution and a major asset locally. Since the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, Intel has lodged plans for a massive 90,000 sq. m expansion at the Leixlip plant which could create a further 850 full-time jobs and which would lead to 3,000 construction jobs. That is the benefit of having proper plans and legislation in place to allow for the expansion of existing companies, but also to alleviate barriers to further foreign direct investment.

The development was given the go-ahead last October by An Bord Pleanála. The suggested project could soon get the green light with refurbishment work planned for parts of the plant. An Intel spokesperson, however, recently said that the go-ahead for the extension was yet to receive final approval, although it is there in principle. We all await that with optimism.

Fianna Fáil will be supporting this. We are encouraged by what is there and by the reasons behind it. It is important that the motivations are positive and that it is being done for the right reasons. Ireland, as a small economy with a small population, needs to be looking to attract foreign direct investment and to sustain the current employment that is there. We need to continue to advocate our workforce which is very talented, very flexible, very well-educated and very highly skilled and to ensure that we are competing at the highest level without any barriers to attracting further foreign direct investment into our country.

Sinn Féin will be supporting this Bill, the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2018. We agree with the thrust of the Bill. I thank the Minister of State for outlining the provisions of this Bill. As mentioned, it stems from the Supreme Court decision in Reid v. IDA, where Mr. Justice McKechnie set aside the first compulsory purchase order made under section 16 of the Industrial Development Act 1986. The case in question concerned a farmer in County Kildare who successfully challenged the State and the IDA over a compulsory purchase order in respect of his farm which is located next to a major multinational in Leixlip.

The great work of IDA Ireland should be acknowledged here as this Bill is primarily about its functions and powers. I met with Martin Shanahan, the CEO of IDA Ireland, recently. He runs a really impressive organisation that succeeded in attracting 19,851 new foreign direct investment, FDI, jobs to Ireland in 2017. IDA Ireland currently supports over 210,000 employees in FDI companies across Ireland, including 10,677 in my own county of Limerick. I hope this success can continue and if this Bill will help provide the tools to achieve that then that is a good thing.

I will always take the opportunity to mention the need for continued efforts to locate FDI companies and jobs in rural areas and regional Ireland. It is also very important to get more jobs to the regions, especially FDI jobs. My analysis of the FDI jobs generated in 2017, which I highlighted at a committee yesterday, indicates that some areas are still faring very poorly on this front. The ratio of FDI jobs to the local population is, unsurprisingly, best in Dublin, with one IDA-backed job for every 15 citizens. In Laois, however, it is 712 citizens to every one job and in Monaghan it is 408 to one. Other counties perform poorly too, with Meath having a ratio of 131 to one and Kilkenny a ratio of 127 to one.

While we clearly need new initiatives focused on getting more FDI companies to these counties, I appreciate that it is the companies' decision at the end of the day and that other factors will affect that choice. The Government should be considering investment in infrastructure and facilities to aid this. We need to prioritise that instead of trying to outdo the Government's friends in Fianna Fáil with tax cuts. The recent collapse of the national broadband tendering process is obviously not the way to encourage multinationals to locate to rural Ireland, so I encourage this Government to get a handle on the situation and to ensure regional Ireland can benefit from FDI.

Turning to specific provisions of this Bill, section 4 sets out that an immediate use and existing tenant is not required for IDA Ireland to purchase land. This is fair as the nature of the decision by companies who locate here can be sudden and require lands immediately so only permitting the purchase and development of land when a company is waiting to locate here would not be feasible due to the possible delays and could jeopardise the investment. Section 5 sets out that lands acquired compulsorily may only be leased and not sold. This is appropriate given how the lands would have been obtained by a CPO. Section 6 sets out in detail the new compulsory purchasing power to be exercised only by IDA Ireland, and outlines that such powers may only be used to compulsorily purchase land where an industrial undertaking has been identified. This section also adapts and applies provisions of the Housing Act 1966 to give IDA Ireland compulsory acquisition powers on par with those of a housing authority. Section 7 gives An Bord Pleanála powers to assess and, if necessary, confirm compulsory purchases by IDA Ireland. This is also a good check on the new powers to be bestowed on IDA Ireland to ensure they are exercised as envisaged.

Although FDI jobs and investment is one vital component to our economy, we should not lose sight of the fine balance that must be achieved to ensure land and property owners are not adversely affected in the pursuit of suitable sites for multinational companies. In that regard, I am satisfied that the tests laid out in this Bill are fair and will achieve that objective. However, we must never use CPOs unless all other options are exhausted. The Minister of State may have read a recent article in The Irish Times about Thomas Reid and the fight he had in the courts over a compulsory purchase order for his County Kildare property. The article described a documentary called “The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid”, which I understand had its Irish premiere at the Dublin International Film Festival last month. Obviously this highlights some effects that CPOs can have on property owners and the reason CPOs must be used only ever as a last resort.

We have just one question about the Bill which perhaps might be worth considering. If, for instance, IDA Ireland finds that it no longer has use for land that was compulsorily purchased, could an option be included in the Bill to allow the land to be sold back to the original owners? I will take as an example the case that led to this change, that is, the case of the farmer in County Kildare. Let us say, for example, IDA Ireland uses its powers under the Bill to buy a farm to enable a company to expand but the company then decides to leave Ireland or goes bust, with the result that the lands are no longer needed for their intended purpose. Will IDA Ireland be in a position to sell the land back to the original owner as it is no longer needed? This could be of particular relevance where land was held by a family for generations, as in the case in County Kildare. It is just a thought I had about the Bill. Perhaps the Minister of State might clarify whether he has an answer to the question today. If not, he might come back to me on it. Otherwise, I welcome the Bill and restate my party's support for it and my appreciation of the work IDA Ireland does in marketing Ireland all over the world to bring jobs to these shores.

I, too, am delighted to speak on Second Stage of the Bill. I am a big supporter of foreign direct investment and IDA Ireland which has been out there since the very start. Mr. Padraic White was one of the first IDA Ireland men with whom I remember working. I commend the work IDA Ireland does in attracting business and especially jobs to Ireland, specifically County Tipperary. We are proud of the nearly 5,000 jobs which are the result of foreign direct investment in the greater south Tipperary area. There are another 1,000 or 2,000 jobs in Dungarvan síos an bóthar in Contae Phort Láirge.

I had the privilege last year on Lá Fhéile Pádraig, or an oíche sin, of meeting the head of IDA Ireland in Washington DC. American ambassadors and the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, were present. Obviously, being a Tipperary man, I was looking for more jobs and industry for the county. Any of us would do the same for our constituencies in which we are privileged to be elected and of which we are so privileged to be a part. I asked the head of IDA Ireland why we could not attract jobs to County Limerick, County Tipperary or anywhere else. My wife was there with me. The head of IDA Ireland told me that he could not get companies to locate outside Dublin. It is a pity, given that everything seems to be Dublin-centric, that they will not even consider locating in Galway where there are universities, Limerick, Port Láirge or aon áit mar sin. We have a problem with which must deal.

That is not true.

Gabh mo leithscéal?

Some 45% of the jobs attracted by IDA Ireland last year were created outside Dublin.

I am telling the Minister of State what the head of IDA Ireland told me. Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi. Dúirt fear é seo liom. He told me that himself and he is the head man out there, or so he told me, but perhaps he was telling me porkies. The Minister of State knows it too. It is all about Dublin.

That is not true.

I stand corrected. I will write to the Minister of State who might answer me.

Let us have a little order, please.

I respect from where the Minister of State is coming.

We will not fight over it.

I missed the Minister of State's comment, but perhaps it is just as well.

To get back to the substantive issue dealt with in the Bill and CPOs, I remember Schering-Plough. It was a long time ago. I was a buachaill óg in school in An Chathair. Schering-Plough was to locate in Cahir, but the next thing was there were objections and it never came. I do not know whether it located in the Ceann Comhairle's county, but it went somewhere else in the country. I did say a CPO was necessary in many areas, but it is a dangerous, powerful tool. Without proper respect for it and its use, it can be a devastating weapon with which to deal, as I saw in many areas. There are many areas where I want to have a bend on the road widened or something dangerous rectified. However, the county council will never invoke an CPO when it should do so. I am talking about life-saving measures and saw this happen again when the motorways were built. The trouble now is that the roads running through the Ceann Comhairle's county are being widened and we cannot fit in them while the works are being carried out. There is bedlam. I stood in yards, fields and haggarts and houses with farmers and their wives and families and could not stop CPOs, although I was not against progress. We cannot stop the building of motorways which we need. However, a CPO is a crude tool, but thankfully the motorways are now in place. However, we then started to put up fences. It was fascinating to see and great. However, the next thing was we came to an old hut which used to be a byre in the early 1900s. There was ivy growing around it and, lo and behold, a bat inside it. At least, that is what we were told it and the whole thing had to be ring-fenced and could not be touched. A roof was put up around it for about 15 months. It was hilarious. They then went somewhere else and found a frog and another big encampment was built around it. It was like something one would see in outer space. It ran all along the perimeter of the motorway and all the while development work carried on, with bulldozers and so on. A new bungalow that had been built about eight years previously - I was involved in the planning process - was demolished. It was got rid hastily and money was received - I know that - but that is neither here nor there. I am just saying a CPO as a tool of engagement is crude. It is needed in certain areas, but, as I said, councils will not use it when they have to clean rivers and free bridges. However, they will use it in the case of big projects.

I noted the case in County Kildare. I do not know anything about it, but I watched reports on it on the news and so on and felt sorry for the man involved. In respect of the same motorway, the senior engineer at the time, a Mayo man, Mr. O'Malley, made a promise to me. We had a fierce problem at the time with Traveller encampments on the outskirts of Cahir. We were told it was because we had had the experience of leaving open spaces and that they would not leave space anywhere for a caravan. Instead, swathes of ground and green areas had been left and we have had problems ever since. However, lo and behold, in the areas they did not use there are now 2, 3 and 4 acre sites. There is actually a very good community project which offers air support to bring people in an emergency to hospital by helicopter. Doctors are delivered by helicopter to the site of an emergency in remote areas which cannot be reached by ambulance. We are looking for a 3 or 4 acre site in Raheen, near Cahir, but we cannot deal with the county council or the National Roads Authority, NRA, which is worse than the IRA. We got rid of and decommissioned the IRA. Former Senator Martin Mansergh-----

The Deputy should get rid of the noxious weeds also.

I am coming to them. One cannot see the horses among the weeds with the buachaláns being so high in the summer. Of course, there is a law to get rid of noxious weeds, but we cannot secure engagement and now the NRA has changed its name. It is like Judas Iscariot betraying his master. It has changed its name to Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, and one cannot talk to it. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has just left the Chamber. He came in but went out when he saw me talking. Perhaps he was afraid; I do not know, but he is in charge of TII, or, at least, he is supposed to be in charge of it-----

We must try to focus on compulsory purchase orders.

Yes, I am focusing on them. I am talking about IDA Ireland lands. This land was subject to a CPO for the construction of a road which we hope will get investment back into my county, that of the Minister of State, Deputy Robert Troy and others.

We now have a motorway running through all of County Clare.

I know. I am not saying the Minister of State's county does not have one, but so do we. I am just saying beidh aonach amárach i gContae an Chláir. There will be also a mart and an after-mart. This wonderful community project is located in Cork and serves all of Munster and Leinster. It wants to have a base somewhere in east Cork or south Tipperary, but it cannot secure engagement with the buachaláns and the Travellers. The land is useless and no rent is accruing from it, although the horses among the buachaláns are shaded from the heat on summer days. There is not even a water supply. It is an ideal site, but we cannot secure engagement. Therefore, I am urging caution because this is a problem with the agencies. When they have too much power, they get an inch and take a mile. It is crude terminology, but they have the courts system behind them. That is why I am opposed to the Bill and I am supporting Deputy Clare Daly. I think she has tabled an amendment.

We need to make hay slowly. We need to understand the little people - na daoine beaga - who back in the 1900s - in 1918, 1920 and 1921 - fought to free this country. They also fought in the War of Independence for our young democracy. We cannot have these powerful agencies that have no respect for people's rights. Land use is a very emotive issue. I have no problem with progress, but we must have full respect for people's rights. As I said, when birds, bats and frogs have more autonomy than householders, it is a sad day, especially now when we have a housing crisis. The houses to which I was referring, including the new bungalow that had only been built ten years previously, had to be flattened. The people who owned them were compensated and relocated.

The Government will pass the Bill, based on the comments I have heard, but we might regret it. We cut our cloth according to measure and pay the bridge as we go over. This is serious and I am not making light of it. I am just saying I am opposed to giving IDA Ireland more powers without restrictions and accountability. We have no accountability from TII and we did not have it for the NRA. We do not have it for so many other agencies, such as the HSE, and the mess we have with €17 billion being spent with no accountability. All of these agencies are a buffer zone between Ministers and Teach Laighean anseo. When we table a question to a Minister it is passed on to these agencies and they are not accountable. They tell us it is not in their remit to answer questions to a Dáil Deputy or anybody else. Where are we going? By all means have this but have curtailments on it and, above all, have respect and understanding for the ordinary little people. I am not happy with the Bill because it needs to be teased out further and examined carefully.

I want to make a couple of points on the Bill, and I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate. As my colleague has already outlined, Fianna Fáil will support the Bill because we support its main content. The Bill provides IDA Ireland with the power to acquire strategic sites for industrial development where it has identified particular undertakings to use them. The Bill also updates IDA Ireland's statutory powers to acquire land by compulsory purchase. The new provisions are modelled on those used for the housing authorities under the Housing Act 1966. IDA Ireland may use them only where it has identified a suitable industrial undertaking to use the land.

This is very welcome, and I accept that in certain areas and certain developments IDA Ireland needs these powers, but I do have a concern. I acknowledge the good work of the CEO and all of the officials who work on the international stage to ensure they do their best to attract foreign direct investment to our island. My colleague, Deputy O'Rourke, outlined the spin-off generated in a particular area by foreign direct investment, but we still have an issue. A few moments ago, the Minister of State told Deputy McGrath that 45% of the jobs created last year were outside Dublin but they are still predominantly in certain areas along the east coast.

Look at a town such as Mullingar, which is only 50 km from the capital city and has a motorway right to an IDA Ireland park. IDA Ireland acquired a 58 acre park more than a decade ago. It has been built and infrastructure is in place, with roads, broadband, sewerage services and bus stops but, with the exception of one business that relocated from another park in Mullingar more than four years ago, nothing is in it. It does not even have a proper entrance. What I am saying is that without question IDA Ireland needs the powers, but it should also be looking to market areas that have been critically lacking in foreign direct support in recent years. This evening I am speaking specifically about Mullingar. Why does IDA Ireland not go into a park, such as that in Mullingar and put units in place? When people come to invest in Ireland they want to see where they can move into now and not where they can acquire a site, do up plans, apply for planning permission, go to tender and construct our building. They will not wait for 18 months or two years. IDA Ireland needs to be ambitious and bold. It needs to come into areas such as Marlinstown Business Park and put buildings in place. Then we would have a much greater advantage and incentive for companies relocating and investing on this island.

I did not want to let the occasion go, as we discuss giving IDA Ireland greater powers, without stating it has obligations. I am being very parochial, and I do not apologise for it, with regard to Mullingar. I am sure if I speak to other colleagues right across the political divide they would be able to identify locations where IDA Ireland has land which has been paid for and the State has made an investment in terms of the necessary infrastructure in roads, sewerage and broadband. The parks are there and they are not being fully utilised. I ask the Minister of State to accelerate the efforts and work with IDA Ireland to ensure it is given targets to bring companies looking to invest on our island to areas outside of Dublin and the east coast and to consider areas and towns such as Mullingar.

The next speaker is Deputy Clare Daly. Is Deputy Daly sharing with Deputy Mick Wallace?

No, I am taking it all.

All on your own, be God.

Maybe he will come in afterwards. I thank Deputy McGrath for stepping into the breach when I thought I would be late. I certainly did not want this discussion to be collapsed because, I have to say, it is one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever come across. While I have not tabled an amendment on this Stage I certainly will do so, although the Bill is probably not amendable and I think I will end up voting against it in its entirety.

It is appropriate to start by looking at what got us here and looking with a bit of depth, and maybe with a bit of a different slant from some of the other Deputies who spoke earlier, with regard to the backdrop to this. On 14 November 2012, IDA Ireland served Thomas Reid with a compulsory purchase order, CPO, for his home and lands at Blakestown in County Kildare. It wanted the lands for Intel, which wished to expand its operations in Ireland and it wanted to do it on the land owned by Thomas Reid. Three years and one very lonely battle against the State later, on 5 November 2015 Thomas Reid won a stunning Supreme Court victory against IDA Ireland. Let us remember it was a unanimous verdict. The five judge court ruled that IDA Ireland had acted ultra vires in terms of the Industrial Development Act 1986 and was objectively biased in its quest to CPO Thomas Reid's home. On the day when he came out of the court, he was asked whether he was happy and he made a very profound statement when he said he was sure they were rearranging themselves behind closed doors, and so they were. The fruits of that rearrangement lie in the Bill before us today.

What the Bill does is simply an end run around the Supreme Court judgment in the Thomas Reid case to ensure never again can IDA Ireland be stopped through a legal challenge from acquiring people's lands for use by US multinationals. We have to be clear about what the Bill is about and what it is not about. On my way in, I listened to speakers from the Government, Fianna Fáil and, even in some ways, Sinn Féin stating this is in the public interest and about job creation and that we have to see it in this way. This is not what it is about. It is about facilitating and smoothing the expropriation of lands and homes to gift them to US corporations that could well afford to buy land from people who are prepared to surrender that land voluntarily. Let us be clear about it. This is not about CPOs for schools, hospitals or roads. It only deals with CPOs for foreign industry. In fact, Enterprise Ireland has been specifically excluded from the Bill. Lest anybody be in any doubt that this is about helping IDA Ireland acquire premises for small and medium-sized businesses, it is not. It is purely for foreign direct investment.

Looking back at Thomas Reid's case can give us some idea of what is down the tracks, if the Bill is passed, the next time a US multinational, with a bit of help from this Bill, decides to build. In 2011, when land prices were at an historic low and emigration figures were at a depressing high, Intel approached Thomas Reid looking to buy some land from him. Thomas refused, as was his right. Intel was not interested in taking "no" for an answer and, with the assistance of IDA Ireland which was right there to help it, within six months of his refusal to sell, IDA Ireland started the process of acquiring his lands against his will. It was not for a school, hospital or motorway.

Intel did not have to build its new plant on the land owned by Thomas Reid. It wanted to do so because his land was beside Intel's Leixlip campus and it suited it to expand sideways because it was the cheapest and easiest option. For a multi-billion euro multinational doing things cheap and easy is how to get ahead. What I find utterly shocking is the role played by the IDA in the Reid case. It effectively was the muscle for a multi-billion euro multinational in its fight against an Irish landowner, which is unacceptable. For me, this raises serious questions about the role of the IDA, in that its role as a State body with the remit of securing foreign direct investment meshes into it being a chief lobbying arm of multinationals in Ireland.

What happened in the court is the backdrop to this situation. The IDA was exposed as giving falsehoods because it was on the court record as denying that it attempted to use its extraordinary powers for the benefit of a specific identifiable corporation. It was only when it was before the Supreme Court that it realised it was running out of options and it admitted that Intel was one of the potential parties interested in the land. This failed endeavour cost the State in the region of €2 million in legal fees. It did not cost Intel anything. It must also be said that the chairman of the IDA at the time of the compulsory purchase order, CPO, was also a non-executive director of the PM Group, a consultancy firm that chose Thomas Reid's site as the most attractive for Intel from a survey conducted in west Dublin. The Supreme Court found that this individual had participated in two key decisions relating to the lands at Blakestown: the original decision to initiate the CPO and the crucial final decision in making the CPO in November 2012. Mr. Justice McKechnie found that a reasonable observer might doubt whether the chairman would be in a position to remain as objective as he might have been expected to be in the circumstances. I think Mr. Justice McKechnie was pretty judicious in his comments. A less kind commentator might say that it was a massive and insurmountable conflict of interest.

When one looks at the literature on CPOs globally, they are always referred to as a last resort. There is no mention of the State expropriating private land for the benefit of private multinational corporations. They are normally talked about as being required for infrastructure projects, which is fair enough, and, occasionally, for public private partnerships, which is unsurprising in the neoliberal world order in which we live. While I might not agree with this, I can see a certain logic in it but forcibly expropriating land for the benefit of a private multinational is rare. No other country in the world, with the exception of Israel, does this. In that case, it is more a compulsory bulldozing than a compulsory purchase of land owned by citizens in a sovereign State. Interestingly, up to 2010, Intel's only other plant outside of the United States, other than the one in Ireland, was, coincidentally, in Israel.

A review of compulsory purchase law by a World Bank senior counsel states that an over-arching principle in most cases is that a Government's taking powers are extraordinary powers that are intended to meet public needs that are not well addressed through the operation of the market and, hence, it is not typical for laws to allow Governments to use compulsory acquisition as the normal means of assembling land for purposes that are clearly for commercial, industrial or other profitable private uses alone. The World Bank is not exactly an entirely radical organisation. This premise operates the world over, except now it seems in Ireland. On my way here I listened on my phone to Fianna Fáil Deputies' speaking about the data centres, Apple, Google and Amazon. I do know how I managed not to crash. Data centres are not public goods. Their only strategic function is the bottom line of the multinationals which own them. In terms of climate change and our energy commitments, and with very few jobs delivered, these will cost us millions of euros in carbon fines in the next few years. What we are looking at is tin pot stuff in terms of this legislation. I find this shocking. We give over our airports to the US for use and we give over our taxation to Apple. We tell multinationals not to worry, they will not have to pay tax here. We are all aware of NAMA and the great vulture fund sell-off and what is happening now with the data centres. If this was not enough, we are now flogging thousands of properties to vulture funds at knock-down prices and we now propose to take land from under the feet of landowners who do not want to sell. I am gobsmacked that this legislation is being put forward. If it is passed, this will be a free-for-all and I am very concerned about that.

It is ironic that we had to listen at the weekend to the protestations of the new Attorney General, who presumably was the individual who proofed and legally advised the Government on this CPO process. It is not accidental, I think, that down the Wicklow way we have had a long running saga regarding lands at Charlesland and the highly questionable deals done by council officials there in terms of the abuse and use of CPO powers to benefit private developers. The case in Wicklow raises very serious questions about the exercise of CPO powers by State agencies and the transparency of the whole process. I commend the dogged and tireless work of councillors like Barry Nevin and Thomas Cullen, without whose work many of the very serious and troubling questions around this process would not be in the public domain. These men were democratically elected to serve the community of Wicklow and they were stopped at every turn from getting information to allow them to fulfil their statutory duties when a deal was done by the former Wicklow county manager with development companies in order to use the CPO process to acquire land for their private gain, land which had been in the ownership of the local authority for housing purposes. I mention the Attorney General because in his former life he was the senior counsel called in to review the process of the proposal by Wicklow County Council to CPO these controversial lands. It is regrettable that in the course of the successful defamation case taken by those heroic Wicklow councillors evidence was produced which showed evidence of shortcomings in the review conducted by the Attorney General, which is worrying given this is the individual who is legally advising on this CPO process. He had in his possession information which showed that the manager's order, put forward by the Wicklow county manager, stating the reason the council had to CPO these lands was because they were needed the land for social housing as the council had an acre or half an acre of land for social housing purposes. In the review which the Attorney General saw at the time the evidence showed that the county manager knew that Wicklow County Council had more than 20 acres for land for social housing purposes such that the basis on which they CPO was sought was a demonstrable lie because the manager's order was false and flawed.

That was in the possession of the Attorney General but he never made that point or brought it up. It is shockingly worrying that this individual, who obviously did not understand and played a less than welcome role in that CPO process, is advising the Government on this. It is clearly not just judicial appointments about which this gentleman is not keeping up to speed. He is very much behind the ball in terms of his knowledge of what is going on in this House and the legislation before it. For me, it is not the first time his judgment has been seriously called into question. We will be hearing a lot more from him if he keeps it up.

The provision in the Bill which deals with an appeal to An Bord Pleanála is highly unsatisfactory as the board invariably approves the CPOs. It does not investigate adequately. It generally simply accepts the assurances of the organisation seeking the CPO. Any statistical analysis of appeals and cases that have gone before the board would verify that. However, even if that was not an issue, An Bord Pleanála's remit is not to investigate shady dealings, potential bias or whatever one wishes to call it. The key issue in the Wicklow case, and a potentially huge issue with regard to the IDA's CPO powers, is an area that the board is not called in to question.

The Minister implied that IDA Ireland lost the Reid case more or less on a technicality and that the principle of IDA Ireland being empowered to take lands to gift to multinationals is one that is enshrined in Irish law since the 1980s. That may or may not be the case, but what certainly is the case is the fact that the principle underlying this Bill is repugnant as far as I am concerned. The principle of expropriating land and property to line the pockets of private business is repugnant to most citizens in this State. It is clear from the Wicklow case that there is insufficient scrutiny or oversight of the process. When elected county councillors are denied information and information is deliberately withheld from them, one can say there is considerable scope for questionable dealings. When a semi-State agency is to be given these unfettered powers, we should all be worried based on what has happened already.

We will probably deal with it later on Committee and other Stages, but there is much to be answered for already with regard to the CPO processes in this State. The manager's order in Wicklow, for example, was shown to be false and misleading according to the court. It is a very serious matter. It is interesting to note that the Tánaiste, in his previous role as Minister in that Department, agreed to have an investigation into the process there. That must be done because the review that was carried out fell well short of what was necessary. In 2015, one of the individuals who acted as a whistleblower in that case submitted 44 questions to the then Minister with responsibility for local government, Deputy Alan Kelly, about the goings on between senior members of Wicklow County Council and the Dunne and Mulryan group about the Charlesland land. It is interesting that the former Minister, who now has a profound interest in whistleblowers and matters of justice, had a less than enthusiastic approach in his ministerial position when whistleblowing councillors, some of whom were in his own party at the time, came forward with serious evidence of wrongdoing. That wrongdoing was subsequently exposed, to an extent, in the successful defamation case they had to take to defend their good names.

I salute the efforts of the Wicklow councillors. I compliment Thomas Reid. In many ways he has been inspirational, a lone wolf taking on a giant single-handedly and winning, with five Supreme Court judges agreeing with him. However, that was not good enough. A multinational had to be given the land from under him and the law had to be changed to facilitate it. One can talk about selling and prostituting ourselves and giving it away, but today is a new low in that regard. The legislation is incredibly regrettable.

Deputy Daly, in the course of that contribution you sharply criticised a number of identifiable people. I did not interrupt you because much of what you said was in the media and there have been court adjudications. I am trusting that in your remarks you have not made any accusations that have not already been heard in court or reported in the media. To do that would be out of order.

I am confident that it is from public sources, a Cheann Comhairle.

I trust you in that respect.

I listened attentively to all the speakers in the debate. I thank everybody for their engagement, particularly those who supported the Bill, and for their comments and observations on the Bill. I look forward to working positively with the Members as the Bill progresses through the Houses in the coming weeks and months.

Deputy O'Rourke obviously is aware of the importance of foreign direct investment in his constituency for the creation of jobs. That is also the case in the Ceann Comhairle's constituency, as well as in Deputy Quinlivan's. Deputy Quinlivan is supporting the Bill. Foreign direct investment is important in those constituencies and it complements the indigenous industries. Foreign direct investment played an important role in our economic recovery and in job creation. Consider the high unemployment rate we had in 2008. It is now 6%, which is almost at full employment.

I note Deputy Clare Daly's comments as well. I wish to reiterate that the IDA certainly does not rely on compulsory purchase orders to acquire land for industrial development purposes. That will not change and there are strict regulations in the Bill to ensure that.

In response to Deputy Mattie McGrath's comments on foreign direct investment, it is clear from the IDA's annual end of year returns that 45% of the jobs created are outside the Dublin area. In the case of Enterprise Ireland it is 65%. Jobs are being created in every region and county. I wish to correct the Deputy in that regard.

With regard to Deputy Troy, I visited Mullingar recently. For a few hours in the afternoon I visited the Mergon Group. It is an indigenous company but it has spread its wings into Germany and the US. It is a very good company and employs many workers, particularly in the robotics area. That is the type of industry we want for the future and I was very impressed by its works. I also visited the former Imperial Tobacco factory and saw the work taking place there. There is potential to create jobs in that area as well. I hope we will continue to invest in Mullingar. As the Deputy said, it is almost in the middle of the country and there is a good road network into it. We will certainly encourage the IDA to ensure that places such as Mullingar are included in future job creation.

I mentioned earlier that the IDA has no additional or strengthened property powers. In fact, in many respects the IDA's compulsory purchase powers will be far more restricted by this Bill and the clearly defined constraints in the legislation. In practical terms, in the unforeseen event of the IDA pursuing another compulsory purchase order, the only thing that will change on foot of the legislation is the process the IDA will be required to use. That process is closely aligned to the well-established existing process that applies to local authorities under the Housing Acts and is a far more open and transparent process than what is currently in place.

The introduction of a full role for An Bord Pleanála provides an additional air of oversight and brings the whole process into line with those that apply in other State bodies. Foreign direct investment helps to generate and drive economic activity in Ireland. Statistics show that it also plays a key role in boosting regional development, as I have outlined.

The Government, my Department and IDA Ireland are doing everything possible to create and sustain employment opportunities and this legislation will remove any potential barrier in that ambition. This ambition for the success of our economy is shared by most Deputies in the House. Without foreign direct investment and without the work done by our agencies, we would not be in the position today of being the fastest growing economy in the EU. This is why I dispute some of the comments made by Deputy Clare Daly.

Question put and agreed to.