Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen says the Government needs to refocus its efforts at attracting new investment into the Midlands.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after addressing a meeting of Tullamore Chamber of Commerce where he set out his priorities for the area.
Deputy Cowen said, “Retaining existing and attracting new businesses into Tullamore is a key priority of mine. Key to achieving this is implementing a competitive commercial rates rebate system to help new businesses to become established in the community and to also assist those which are struggling financially. The current rates system is cumbersome and needs to be reworked.
“The IDA also needs to be refocused to help bring new investment into towns such as Tullamore. Over 50% of all IDA site visits went to the Greater Dublin Area in 2017. It’s perfectly clear that investment has been focused on large urban areas under Fine Gael. This needs to change if towns such as Tullamore are to thrive in the years ahead.
Deputy Cowen also welcomed the recent purchase of “Coens” and “Texas” sites.
“I worked extensively to ensure these sites were brought back into use and I’m sure that the potential for these two sites to revitalize the core of Tullamore will be realised with the cooperation of Offaly County Council.
“We also need to see sufficient availability of affordable housing in Tullamore if the town is to attract new investment. The Government needs to promote the construction of affordable housing. The housing crisis doesn’t just affect Dublin, it is impacting on communities all over Ireland. It will be impossible to attract large multinational companies to setup in Tullamore if there is no affordable housing available for their employees.
“I also want to see additional investment in transport infrastructure such as road and rail. A recent report carried out by the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) found that almost 70% of regional roads have serious structural and surface defects. This has led to serious safety concerns for road users and increased maintenance costs to motorists.
“Fianna Fáil is also proposing to establish a Regeneration Transition Fund to be financed by ring fencing the annual proceeds of the Solid Carbon Tax. This ring-fenced fund should be used to attract new industries into areas which have suffered economic decline as a result of initiatives taken to combat climate change. This would be beneficial for Offaly as the fund would help replace jobs lost as a result of the diversification of Bord na Móna operations.”