Government warned not to ‘gobble’ fund as ‘political pie’ for 2016 electoral benefit
Fine Gael TD criticises Minister’s regional development policy
John Deasy: expressed particular concern about the €6.8 billion Strategic Investment Fund, the only stimulus package Ireland would see for the next five years.
A Government backbencher has warned his colleagues against using investment funding as a “political pie” to be “gobbled up” for their own constituencies in the run-up to the 2016 general election.
Fine Gael Waterford TD John Deasy also hit out at the Government’s investment strategy, which he said “has not worked”. He said 35 additional IDA staff to be recruited should be deployed “in the regions which have seen the least amount of foreign direct investment” over the past decade, including his Waterford constituency which had lost thousands of jobs.
Speaking in the Dáil on the ongoing debate on the Government’s priorities, he criticised Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton over his contribution, because “the only reference he made to regional development was one line to the effect that all regions had experienced job growth over the past 12 months”.
Mr Deasy believed it was the Government view that “as long as the headline figures for the country as a whole are positive, the virtual non-existence or regional investment is considered irrelevant”.
He expressed particular concern about the €6.8 billion Strategic Investment Fund, the only stimulus package Ireland would see for the next five years.
He said it should be used to balance foreign direct investment across the country and not in the main cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway, which received 82 per cent of investment while “so little goes elsewhere”.
Mr Deasy said he wanted to “sound a warning” about “undue political influence” on the funding because of the general election in two years’ time.
“It cannot end up being a political pie, gobbled up by insecure politicians with one eye on a general election,” he said.
Fine Gael Mayo TD John O’Mahony said however that while Mr Deasy referred to the uneven geographical spread of job creation, “from my observations, the recent growth in tourism appears to have been evenly spread”, with the reduction in VAT, the abolition of the travel tax and the marketing of The Gathering last year.
Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív questioned how the Government could claim 61,000 jobs had been created in the past year with jobs in agriculture up 30 per cent and 26,000 extra jobs on farms.
“This is not true,” Mr Ó Cuív insisted.