In the aftermath of last week’s revelation that Longford did not receive a single client visit by IDA companies for the past three years, the IDA has admitted it only advertises Longford on an “opportunistic basis,” in response to specific client requirements.
The IDA stated it “prioritises” the linked Gateway of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar. These three locations were designated as the Gateway Locations of the Midlands under the National Spatial Strategy 2002-2020 – a decision that seriously undermined Longford’s potential to attract outside employers to the county, even before the downturn in the economy.
After the closure of B3 Cable Solutions in Summer 2010, Fine Gael TD James Bannon asked for the IDA to set up a task force to deal with the lack of investment in Longford. Nearly two years on, no such task force has been established, nor does it seem to be on the IDA’s agenda.
In a statement to this paper, the IDA said: “With the intense global competition for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the high complex requirements of potential investors it is imperative, in order to attract FDI to the Midlands Region, that IDA Ireland continues with its regional strategy of promoting the Gateway Location as the area of critical mass.”
James Bannon TD has called on the National Spatial Strategy, which declared Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar as gateway towns in 2002, to be reviewed urgently. “It hasn’t worked for towns outside of these and it has seriously affected areas like Longford who are crying out for investment. We need this document changed so that Longford can receive the support it needs to get people back to work and to get some inward investment,” Mr Bannon said.
To read this story in full, see this week’s Longford Leader.