Laois ‘the county the IDA forgot’

Laois councillors have slammed the IDA’s poor record of job creation in Laois, with the county’s national politicians urged to do more.

Laois councillors have slammed the IDA’s poor record of job creation in Laois, with the county’s national politicians urged to do more.

“Laois is the county the IDA forgot about. They have to up their game. Nothing has been done to create jobs,” said Cllr James Kelly.

Cllr Jerry Lodge wants the councillors to form a “task force” and meet the IDA.

“Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar are their key areas. Until that changes, we are climbing a mountain. We are all criticising the IDA but let’s go and see them and ask what is the reason,” he said.

Cllr Tom Mulhall said the motorway made Laois a good business location.

“Portarlington is our second biggest town, with 10,000 people, roaring out for employment. The train station is full every morning with people gone to Dublin, getting up at 5am. You would nearly think the IDA didn’t know where Laois was,” he said.

“We already have a group, two TDs, a minister and a senator, what have they been doing? Why are we doing someone else’s job,” asked Cllr Ben Brennan.

They had just heard Laois County Council’s report of a meeting on February 2 between the IDA, Laois Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland, organised by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

“We reiterated the development of a tourism brand for Laois, and heard an update of Laois Enterprise Office’s activities, which are significant,” said Director of Services Anna Maria Delaney.

She said that the draft plan for the IDA Regional enterprise Strategy for the midlands, will be published shortly. The final strategy will be published in July.

The meeting followed the news that no overseas investors were brought to Laois by the IDA in 2014. Nine IDA backed jobs were created here last year, but 28 were lost.

There are just 87 IDA-backed jobs in Laois, 10 times less than the 890 in Offaly.

Cllr Mary Sweeney had asked for an update on the meeting with the IDA.

“No doubt the figures are disappointing, but any time we get an opportunity to promote Laois, we must take it,” she said praising Laois Enterprise Office for nurturing local start-ups.