There has been strong criticism of the role being played by the Industrial Development Agency following the news that just one job was created in Leitrim in 2012 by an IDA supported company while in the same time period 152 jobs were lost in IDA supported companies. Those figures followed a statement from Senator Paschal Mooney strongly criticising the fact that during 2011/’12 there were no IDA visits to County Leitrim.
Figures released last week indicating the IDA failed to visit Leitrim over the past two years have been criticised by Senator Mooney who said it illustrated that, “Jobs in the North West region is not a priority,” while Deputy Michael Colreavy described as “staggering” the lack of jobs created in the county by the IDA.
The issue of job creation was raised in the Dáil on Wednesday last, February 13 when Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton gave a county by county breakdown detailing the number of full time jobs gained and lost in both IDA and Enterprise Ireland (EI) supported companies in 2012.
While the figures nationally may appear positive, from a Leitrim point of view the news is not as encouraging as there were considerably more jobs lost than there were created in the county.
Commenting on the national figures Minister Bruton said, “I am delighted to say that 2012 was a particularly good year for job creation in Agency supported companies, with IDA client companies creating a total of 12,722 gross new full time jobs and Enterprise Ireland client companies creating a total of 12,861 gross new full time jobs.”
However, the figures that Minister Bruton referred to are not reflected locally as in 2012 just one full time job was created by the IDA and during the same period 152 jobs were lost. The situation was considerably better when taking into account figures from Enterprise Ireland client companies as 54 full time jobs were created in the county while 16 jobs were lost.
Reacting to the news that just one full time job was created by an IDA supported business, Deputy Michael Colreavy said, “It is staggering.”
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer Deputy Colreavy added, “I can say fairly safely that with the exception of MBNA/Bank of America there has been no significant employment creation in Leitrim over the past decade. The problem appears to be the IDA’s criteria for encouraging industrial growth - Carrick-on-Shannon would be regarded as being too small and consequently they are looking at Sligo.” Deputy Colreavy added, “The whole of the North West is disadvantaged, Leitrim is disadvantaged within the North West and the North West is being disadvantaged within Ireland.”
Addressing possible solutions to the lack of job creation within the county Deputy Colreavy said, “If the IDA can’t or won’t take seriously the issue of job finding in Leitrim then a percentage of money that is designated for the IDA should be given to a job creation body that would create jobs in Leitrim.”
Prior to the release of the figures highlighting the jobs created and lost in IDA and EI supported companies Senator Mooney hit out at the low rate of visits to counties in the region (Leitrim no visits in 2011/’12; Sligo two visits in 2012; Donegal two visits in 2011/’12) while noting the IDA visited Louth 38 times, Waterford 37 times and Clare 29 times over the same two year period.
Criticising the figures Senator Mooney stated, “We have heard Fine Gael and Labour say time and time again that job creation is their ‘top priority’. But these figures clearly show that jobs in the North-West region is not a priority.”
The Drumshanbo based Senator criticised the Government’s strategy on job creation which he said is “Simply not working in this region”, adding, “Any time drop in the Live Register figures is completely off set by the ever-increasing number of people forced to emigrate for work.”
Senator Mooney added, “The Jobs Minister Richard Bruton must explain why there has been so little IDA activity in this region since he took up office.”