Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Ceisteanna (42)

Michael Collins


42. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number and location of jobs secured by the IDA in the past three years in south-west County Cork, in particular the three peninsulas and eight islands in west County Cork. [50344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Business)

Will the Minister outline the number and locations of jobs the IDA has secured in Cork South-West in the past three years? I refer in particular to jobs on the three peninsulas and eight islands in west Cork.

No enterprise policy is more important than strengthening regional development, including through the growth of foreign direct investment, FDI. The Department is doing everything it can to increase and deepen FDI throughout the country. The energy and resources we have invested into that objective is, as the evidence illustrates, producing results. In 2018, for example, the IDA delivered 113 regional investments, with 56% of net new jobs created outside Dublin, while in the past four years, 44,500 new FDI-driven jobs have been created outside the capital. We will do our utmost to encourage further such job growth in all parts of Ireland in 2020 and beyond. 

Cork, which the Deputy mentioned, has traditionally been a strong performer in respect of FDI. The trend continues, with a steady and positive increase in employment numbers in IDA client companies in the county in recent years. Currently, there are 169 IDA client companies in Cork, employing approximately 39,000 people, while almost 2,100 net new jobs were added by multinational companies in 2018. There are many reasons companies choose to invest in Cork.  It is known for its high-quality technical workforce, its adaptability and its commitment to innovation. In the past 12 months, there have been some high-profile announcements from Cork-based IDA clients, including plans to create 100 new jobs at Forcepoint and 200 new jobs at Janssen Sciences in Ringaskiddy. There have also been a number of significant research and development announcements, including plans by Stryker to invest €200 million in a number of projects at three of its Cork facilities. These high-calibre investments are a great vote of confidence in Cork's workforce and a testament to the pro-enterprise environment fostered in the county.

As for the Cork peninsulas and islands, I assure the Deputy that the IDA, with the support of the Department, actively draws the attention of its clients to every region of Ireland through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas. The agency has a number of incentives in place to encourage companies to invest throughout Cork, including the provision of investment advice and expertise, hosting site visits and providing financial supports in the form of IDA grants.

I will focus on Cork South-West, the constituency I represent. It was an area where farming, fishing and the construction industry experienced something of a boom when times were good, but unfortunately all of these industries are going through a very difficult time.

Employment is scarce on the ground in Mizen Head, the Beara Peninsula, the Sheepshead Peninsula, Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Bandon. I am interested in hearing what efforts the IDA has made in south-west Cork. People are travelling 60 or 70 miles to get work in the city. I would like employment to be brought back into towns and villages in west Cork. Has an effort been made in that regard by the IDA in the past number of years?

Deputy Collins also referred to the islands. As he knows, in the past month the Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, formally launched a consultative process which will formulate a new national policy for the future development of the islands. This will lead to the development of a national policy which will ensure our island communities are supported in a sustainable way for generations to come.

The IDA made 55 site visits to Cork this year. Due to commercial sensitivities, we do not have information on specific locations where site visits have taken place. Last year there were 61. We also need to realise how important indigenous industry is to west Cork. Deputy Collins mentioned tourism. The marine and maritime sector is extremely important.

Part of the regional enterprise plan launched by the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, last March is focused on the delivery of regional enterprise hubs, business clustering to ensure skills and talent are available and, as I said, supporting the maritime and marine industry which is synonymous with west Cork and provides a lot of industry. Tourism is an important industry in west Cork.

The unemployment figure for the area is currently 5.1%, a decrease from a high of 10.5% a few years ago. Cork has done really well and the future is positive for Cork. There are 24,500 more people working in south-west Cork than there were a number of years ago.

I thank the Minister of State. We discussed the islands, and their focus is very much on tourism. I attended the launch of the national policy on the islands, at which the Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, were in attendance. They were most welcome to Sherkin Island recently. Any focus on the islands is very welcome. Sherkin, Cape Clear, Bere, Whiddy and Dursey make superhuman efforts but they need extra resources from the Government, as do towns and villages in west Cork.

When I left earlier today it was alarming to see the lines of traffic from west Cork heading towards Cork city. It appears that the focus is on cities, which I have no issue with, but areas like Bandon, Skibbereen and Bantry need a greater focus to ensure that good jobs are created for people. People have to travel and are left with very little in their wage packets at the end of the week after travelling 60 or 70 miles every day.

The regional enterprise development fund is extremely important for the regions in Ireland and was initiated by our Department. The Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and I recently visited the Ludgate Hub and saw what Skibbereen can do. It is a very innovative project and a lot of micro enterprises are working out of it.

The regional enterprise development fund has benefited west Cork, together with other centres such as those in Macroom and elsewhere. There is a good news story to be told. We are of course working to ensure that balanced regional development continues, which is important and very much part of Project Ireland 2040. Regional enterprise plans have worked in the past and I believe they will continue to work in the future. It is about collaboration and working together with institutions. The Ludgate Hub and faster broadband are a template for more companies to work out of the area. West Cork is a beautiful area. As the Deputy said, tourism and the marine industry are important and contribute a lot to local industry.