Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

IDA Ireland Annual Report 2014: Discussion

1:30 pm

Photo of Anthony LawlorAnthony Lawlor (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I welcome Mr. Shanahan to this afternoon's meeting. It is good to see such a buoyant report. I note that over the last couple of years, IDA Ireland-supported companies in my own county, which has not received many visitations, have increased the number of jobs they provide. That sort of news is always good.

I have a number of questions, the first of which relates to IDA Ireland's links with other funding agencies within the State, such as Science Foundation Ireland. I suggest that such agencies could be used as a source of finance to attract investment in our research and development and knowledge box package. What links are associated with such agencies?

Mr. Shanahan mentioned in his report that Ireland has an above-average number of manufacturing firms, by comparison with Europe as a whole. Does he see the high number of such companies as a problem as we go forward? Does he think there is a skills shortage in this area? I am thinking particularly of apprenticeships. Does IDA Ireland have links with the Apprenticeship Council in this regard? Is it able to issue directions in this respect?

Many Irish entrepreneurs have set up companies overseas. Does IDA Ireland keep a database of them so that it might be able to entice them to come back?

I know we are not going to get the Intels or similar into the country but the smaller companies. Has IDA Ireland a database of Irish entrepreneurs involved in such overseas companies?

Has the agency identified constraints in the economy? I am referring to infrastructural constraints. There is much argument about whether we are spending enough on infrastructure, be it roads, broadband or the rail network. Has the IDA spoken out about it? The agency must be getting indications as to reasons companies are not coming here. Is one of these reasons concerns about infrastructure? Yesterday, IBEC said that more money, particularly the recent corporation tax windfall, needed to be invested in infrastructure. Some may call it a windfall but companies are paying corporation tax because they are making profits.

On my earlier point about IDA site visits, is Kildare not a sexy county? Does the IDA go to other counties rather than Kildare? As Deputy Peadar Tóibín said, it is the counties on the periphery of Dublin that do not seem to be as attractive?

What are the consequences of the recent Supreme Court judgment on a compulsory purchase order, CPO, of lands in Maynooth? What are the costs associated with that? We are all talking about regional development and acquiring landbanks. The case in question and the judgment has caused problems for IDA Ireland and local authorities. I saw the consequences of such a judgment on CPOs affect local authorities because of the McHugh case in County Kildare many years ago.