Oireachtas committee report recommends the establishment of an IDA Ireland regional office to bring jobs to South East

Unemployment levels in southeast above the national average while region also suffers from low rates of educational attainment

Fine Gael TD Damian English: presented the report

Fine Gael TD Damian English: presented the report


IDA Ireland should open a regional office and appoint a director for the southeast to address the unemployment crisis in the region, a joint Oireachtas committee has recommended in a 10-year economic development plan for the area.

According to the South-East Economic Development Strategy prepared by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the southeast is facing a major challenge in creating economic growth and employment.

The report by Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane looked at unemployment in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford as well as south Tipperary and found it exceeded the national average.

The region has a population of 497,000, which accounts for 13.5 per cent of the State’s population. Of these, about 42,000 people are jobless, giving an unemployment rate of 18.4 per cent, rising to 25 per cent in Waterford city, the report said.

This compares to the national unemployment rate of 13.7 per cent.

The joint Oireachtas committee agreed to a proposal from Mr Cullinane in September 2012 to prepare a report on economic development in the southeast.

The report was presented yesterday by committee chairman and Meath West Fine Gael TD Damian English at Waterford City Hall.

Stimulate growth

Senator Cullinane said the committee had identified key recommendations which, building on the region’s strengths in areas such as health, life sciences and medical devices, could be implemented by Government to help stimulate economic growth over the next 10 years.

Senator Cullinane said the joint Oireachtas committee would press to have the recommendations accepted at Cabinet. It will also bring the report to the attention of Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton when he appears before it.

He also argued that the recommendations of the 132-page report be “driven by a southeast economic development forum that improves the effectiveness of the existing South-East Forum”, which would bring together key stakeholders in the region to work in clearly-defined subcommittees.

Joint Oireachtas committee member and Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary said it was important for the southeast, as with all regions in Ireland, to realise they were no longer in competition with each other but were competing against China and India for investment.