A Thurles councillor is calling on the Industrial Development Agency to promote the town for foreign direct investment.
The IDA is responsible for the attracting inward foreign direct investment into Ireland, but Councillor Seamus Hanafin is of the view that only South Tipp is benefiting from FDI jobs.
In the last 10 years, FDI jobs have increased from 3,300 to 4,500 across the Premier, with 4,000 of those jobs in the south of the county and 500 in the north.
At a Thurles Municipal District meeting, Cllr. Hanafin said this job increase is positive but expressed disappointment that Thurles has not seen any FDI jobs in the town.
He told Tipp FM that Thurles has many attractive attributes for attracting foreign investment and wants the IDA to promote it more.
“Thurles has everything you would think would be required. We have two universities, motorway access, rail access, a central location in the country, and we have had significant investment in Thurles over the last number of years. More to the point, we have an ideal site at the Lisheen site in Moyne, which is very close to Thurles and has actually been deemed of regional significance; it has water, high-tension cables, and road access. It is a very, very suitable site for investment.
“My complaint is that I don’t believe the IDA has promoted that site or Thurles in the way that they should have, and that I hope they will do in the future.”
There were mixed opinions about the IDA’s work at the recent meeting following Cllr. Hanafin’s expressed disappointment that Thurles had not yet seen one FDI job in the town, despite meeting all the criteria for it.
However, Cllr. Phyll Bugler commended the IDA, as her area in Ballina directly benefits from FDI jobs in Limerick, saying it has a trickle-down effect on the area’s economy and provides jobs for locals.
Cllr. Michael Smyth said the council should abandon the IDA, claiming a commitment was made for a potential firm investment in Roscrea’s solar farm but there was a lack of activity and that the council should look outside of the IDA.
Cllr. Hanafin believes a push to get more FDI jobs into the north of the county would be a better alternative to abandoning it.
“There are people in Thurles who travel to Limerick to work, and there are people in Thurles who travel to Clonmel to work. It would be an awful lot better for those people, for the quality of their lives, if we had jobs on their doorstep instead of having to spend an hour or two a day travelling to work if those jobs were in Thurles.
“I don’t know that it should be scrapped. I think, to be fair to them [the IDA], they have shown significant success. They have grown the number of FDI jobs in the county over the last 10 years. But what we suffer from, certainly in the north of the county, is thing called “clustering,” where those FDI jobs tend to go where there are other FDI jobs. What we need to do is get a push to get them into the north of the county and get that ball rolling.”