Waterford TD John Deasy has called on the Government to urgently look at deploying a larger IDA staff to the city, as talks continue concerning the future of the local Bausch + Lomb plant.
In a submission to Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, the Fine Gael Deputy pointed to the extra 35 new IDA Ireland personnel announced by his Department in February.
Since the restructuring of the IDA in the mid-1990s — which amalgamated the agency’s south-east and south-west divisions — the Southern Regional Director has been based in Cork. In the intervening years over 80% of all Foreign Direct Investment has gone to Dublin, Cork, and Galway.
An estimated 2,441 IDA Ireland company jobs have been lost in Waterford since 2008, with only around 581 created. There are just four IDA staff responsible for the south-east, all based in the city.
“While the IDA might argue that a director is not needed in every region, and that its preference is for a global spread of staff, the South East is facing unique economic difficulties,” Mr Deasy said.
The IDA is constructing a new advance technology building in Waterford but he feels “an even greater dedication of resources is required” — starting with some of the 35 new approved posts.
Mr Deasy pointed out that last year’s report by DKM economic consultants recommended a number of ‘high-level interventions’ to Government to support the Waterford council amalgamation — including an IDA Regional Director based here to promote FDI.
“I believe it’s imperative that the IDA’s personnel contingent in Waterford is increased and that the level of seniority attached to the Waterford IDA office is reflected at executive management level.”
Also, with new IDA chairman, Frank Ryan, only recently in place and a new CEO, Martin Shanahan, installed this week, Deputy Deasy feels “it’s time that the IDA’s entire strategy when it comes to Waterford city and county was revisited given its lack of success in terms of attracting FDI, ongoing job losses and high unemployment.”
Last week a “disgusted” Mr Deasy requested the Irish Ambassador to the United States to intervene after New York Senator Chuck Schumer revealed he’d directly phoned the CEO of Bausch + Lomb’s parent company Valeant seeking to have Waterford production relocated to Rochester.
Describing it as an “underhand” attempt to “impoverish” Waterford workers, Mr Deasy — a former congressional aide in Washington — contacted Ambassador Anne Anderson, who communicated the Irish Embassy’s concerns to the Democrat Senator’s office.