Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Niall Collins has criticised the Government for its failure to spread high paying jobs across the country through the targeted use of IDA premises and lands.

Deputy Collins was commenting after receiving a parliamentary reply from the Minister that shows that two out of every three IDA premises or lands were unoccupied at the end of 2017.

“In figures released to me this week, it became evident that the IDA are not maximising their existing stock of buildings and lands to bring well-paying jobs to the regions”, said Deputy Collins.

“Of the 153 lands in the possession of the IDA, just 54 are currently in use. The fact that 65% are being left idle should be a wakeup call to the Government and the IDA.

“The vast majority of the sites lying idle are in counties that have remained stubbornly prone to high unemployment rates despite a growing economy.

“Roscommon, Mayo, and Waterford, for example, all have a number of lands or premises that are lying unused. All three are struggling to attract employment opportunities for their people.

“All three are losing workers to foreign emigration or migration to cities such as Dublin or Galway.

“If the Government is serious about its regional Action Plans for Jobs, then it will direct the IDA to do more, and make better use of its existing lands by attracting FDI to the regions.

“Equally, if the IDA is unable to secure investment, thought should be given to transferring the management of these lands to Enterprise Ireland for use by indigenous enterprises or start-ups.

“The elephant in the room that the Government refuses to acknowledge is broadband, or more appropriately the lack of broadband in many parts of rural Ireland.

“Companies will not move to, invest in, or support rural counties if they cannot get high quality broadband. This week’s announcement of a further delay in the roll out of the National Broadband Plan will surely limit how many jobs can be created in the regions.

“Minister Humphreys must do better; she needs to make it crystal clear that the IDA’s continued overlooking of rural Ireland needs to stop; and above all else, she must impress upon the Taoiseach and the Minister for Communications the absolute need to get the finger out and deliver the National Broadband Plan,” concluded Collins.