The recent job losses announced in Counties and Cork are very disappointing. However, these announcements are not a reflection of the strength or competitiveness of our economy. It is important to recognise that the overall trend of employment and investment continues to be very positive – in Clare, in Cork, in Munster and in Ireland as a whole – and there have been a number of significant investments in 2019 across all regions. In fact, there are now over 230,000 people employed in IDA Ireland client companies – the highest-ever figure – and last year alone IDA Ireland won 265 projects, compared with 237 in 2017.
Retaining and strengthening Ireland’s reputation as a first-class destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) remains fundamentally important to our economic model. That is why IDA Ireland continues to work closely with international clients, from a range of sectors, to attract job-rich investment from overseas firms, often in the face of increasing international competition for high-value investment projects.
In doing so, the IDA has targeted both new-name investors and increased investment from companies already located here. The Agency has also restructured its global footprint in response to Brexit and other global challenges. This expansion of the IDA’s presence overseas has allowed IDA’s staff to secure new investment opportunities from non-traditional target markets and to further diversify our sources of investment.
The Government is working to ensure that Ireland’s economy is as competitive as possible. We are conscious of the areas in which we need to improve, including increasing the availability of certain labour market skills and investing further in infrastructure through Project Ireland 2040. We have also introduced Future Jobs Ireland, a cross-government initiative with a strong focus on improving productivity. One of the key features of Future Jobs is developing an awareness of the importance of lifelong learning and continuous training and upskilling. That means when economic patterns shift, businesses and workers alike are better able to adapt and evolve.
Our efforts to win more FDI will be helped by our continued status as an attractive destination with a proven track record as a successful home for overseas firms. Of course, Ireland’s membership of the European Union ensures that companies considering investment here will gain barrier-free access to the EU market. When taken together with other strengths, such as our pro-enterprise environment and our highly skilled dynamic workforce, I am confident that Ireland will continue to be an attractive destination for FDI in the years ahead.