Following a parlimentary question by Labour Deputy Willie Penrose TD, who called upon the IDA to make the Longford/Westmeath constituency a top priority and prime location for inward investment in 2013, it emerged that there has been no IDA presence or investment in Longford since before 2010.
The information emerged after Penrose, who has been absent from parlimentary proceedings for the past few months, asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, John Bruton to set out in detail the number of Industrial Development Agency sponsored visits to Athlone, Mullingar and Longford on an annual basis, since 2010, by potential investors, and for him to outline the number of such visits that led to a positive decision by the visiting industrialists to locate an industry in any of the towns visited.
Between 2010 and 2012 there was no IDA presence in Co Longford, while there were 44 visits by the State body to Co Westmeath.
Responding to the news, Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG) said that the recent event in London, held to promote Co Longford, emerged as a direct result to the news, that the IDA had not invested in Longford for three years. “I knew about these stats and it is an absolute disgrace that a State agency would treat Longford like that,” the local area representative fumed. “That is what drove me to orgnise the event at the London Embassy recently – which provided a platform on which Longford will be doing business, I might add. We are also endeavouring at present to twin Longford with a town in Mexico so that we can open trade links to this town. We can do it here in Longford– it just appears that we will have to do it on our own, because we are not going to get support from State agencies and that is clear. I have said it before and I will say it again – Longford is open for business; I am horrified at what is going on with the IDA.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Penrose pointed to the centralised geographical location and state of the art infrastructure present in the constituency and said it was and ideal location for any complany in which to do business.
“With the improved infrastructure that is now in place, a significant number of people commute within the midlands region and a project win in one midlands location has a positive impact on the other surrounding areas,” he concluded.