Of 193 IDA-organised visits by prospective foreign direct investors in the first five months of this year, just six looked at the southeast region.

Describing this imbalance as “absolutely appalling”, local Labour TD Brian O’Shea said the “serious neglect of Waterford” and the region has seen a steady drain of jobs, with 14,630 people on the live register in this constituency at the end of May – a 1,046 increase in a year, and not including all those who have emigrated.

The ‘potential investor’ visits between January and May saw three made to Waterford, one to Dungarvan and two to Carlow. There were eight such visits to the Waterford area during 2009, and two in Dungarvan.

Citing the availability of the former Kilmeaden cheese factory site, Mr O’Shea said that despite the establishment of a special task force last year, “to the best of my knowledge, [the IDA] has failed” to come up with any would-be investors for it.

All other regions have fared better than the southeast in terms of site visits, though the northwest, with seven isn’t exactly being inundated either. By comparison the midlands had 14, the mid-west and north saw 16 each, east Galway had 18, the southwest 22, and the east region 94. Dublin city and county received 92 visits over the period, while 22 companies came to Cork, 18 to Galway, and 11 checked out Limerick.

The figures “prove that Waterford and the south east are being scandalously neglected when it comes to job creation,” Deputy O’Shea told the Dáil.

Minister of State Martin Mansergh, replying on behalf of Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe, ran through all the advantages Waterford has to offer given its “long and strong track record as a centre of manufacturing expertise” and “an important transport hub.”

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