Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Caffrey: I raise this issue in the light of the recent debate on Objective One status and the statement by the Industrial Development Authority that the loss of Objective One status would be a major disadvantage in attracting industry to the disadvantaged areas of the west and mid-west.
The record of the IDA in attracting industry to the west, the north-west and the midlands is deplorable. The last annual report of the IDA shows clearly that 80 per cent of new jobs were created on the east coast and a minimal number came to the west and mid-west. In the light of the rapid decline in confidence in farming and in farm incomes, if this policy does not change the culture of rural Ireland will change completely. For the past number of years, more than 100 farmers  have been leaving the land every week. Small towns in the west and mid-west depended on their rural hinterland for their commercial viability. Consumer spending in the farming sector has fallen and commercial activity in towns has also dropped. Unless the focus of the IDA is redirected to the areas of mass disadvantage we will see even greater depopulation in the west of Ireland and the midlands. I ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Harney, to influence the direction of the IDA and attempt to fill the industrial vacuum in the region.
We hear warnings that an overheating economy  could be the catalyst which would cause a recession. There is always a catalyst for a recession and economists claim an overheating economy is one. In my opinion, underheating in the farm homesteads of Ireland will be the catalyst for the next recession. The underheating will be the result of the people's inability to heat their homes due to a lack of money.
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