In November 2015, Roche Holding AG announced its regrettable decision to close its facility in Clarecastle, following a review of its worldwide manufacturing network. This review also resulted in closures at plants in other international locations.
Since that announcement was made, the IDA has worked to identify a new buyer for the facility. This has included actively promoting the site to existing clients and potential investors. However, I understand that, despite extensive efforts, no offer has been made for the site to date.
While I remain very disappointed by the closure of this facility, I welcome the continuing overseas investment in Clare, where there are 66 IDA client companies employing a total of 6,948 people. The IDA, in promoting Clare as an investment destination, markets the county as part of the Mid-West region along with Limerick and North Tipperary. The overall trend for employment in multinationals across that region is positive. The total employment in overseas companies in the Mid-West now stands at almost 19,000 people across 125 client companies.
Recent investment announcements by overseas companies reflect the potential of Clare and the surrounding area to attract high-quality FDI. The decision by Jaguar Land Rover to establish a new software engineering facility in Shannon, for example, shows that the region can attract high-tech investment and the employment opportunities associated with such projects. Beckman Coulter’s announcement that they are to expand their current facility with the addition of 70 new roles is further evidence of the area’s attractiveness to investors. Edwards Lifesciences have also established a new facility in Shannon which was officially opened last summer.
Of course, indigenous enterprise also has a critical role to play in the region. That is reflected in the Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative (RAPJ), which is a central pillar of the Government’s ambition to create 135,000 new jobs outside of Dublin by 2020. A key objective of each of the plans is to have a further 10 to 15 per cent at work in each region by 2020, with the unemployment rate of each region within one percentage point of the national average. Since the launch of the RAPJ in 2015, there are now 18,800 more people in employment in the Mid-West and the unemployment rate is now at 7.2%.
I am confident that we will continue to build on this strong employment base – both FDI and indigenous driven – in the region and in Clare in the coming months and years.