KILRUSH town councillor Ian Lynch has warned that Kilrush is destined for village status unless the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) invests in West Clare.
He underlined the need for investment in Kilrush when noting how emigration has affected the town and its hinterland.
“We’re decimated. There’s no one around. Young lads gone to Australia have no intention of coming home. Two years ago, they were going for six months and maybe stayed for 12. Now they haven’t a notion of coming home for five years. Rural Ireland will be gone. We wouldn’t consider ourselves rural Ireland in Kilrush but in five years time, the way it’s going, we’re going to be nothing only a little village. We’ll have nothing at all,” Councillor Lynch predicted glumly.
Speaking at last Thursday’s November meeting of Kilrush Town Council, the former town mayor claimed the IDA should make it as attractive to invest in West Clare as Limerick or other big cities in the region. He said he had heard of plans mooted to regenerate Limerick City with IDA-backed grants.
“We’re back here in West Clare and we’re getting nothing at all. A colleague has told me that there’s an air of optimism that the IDA are going to be in a position to give Foreign Direct Investment grants to Limerick. I’ve tried looking at the website to see are they national grants but it’s very unclear,” he said.
“What I don’t want to happen and it can’t happen in the interests of fairness, is that the IDA come along and give a grant to Limerick. They are going to do up their retail area. There isn’t a hope of getting anything back here in West Clare. We’re struggling as it is. A company from America should be getting the same opportunity to invest in Kilrush, Kilkee or Carrigaholt with the same chance of grants. When I went to America earlier this year, the IDA hadn’t a clue where Kilrush was,” Councillor Lynch revealed.
“I’m not putting my hand out for a grant for Kilrush. What I don’t want to see is that they’re all going to Limerick or to bigger towns because Limerick will decimate Ennis and eventually Clare might as well cut itself off and we might as well be an island in the middle of nowhere,” he suggested.
However, Councillor Tom Prendeville didn’t express any confidence in much Foreign Direct Investment making its way to Kilrush.
“With the best will in the world, I wouldn’t hold out any great hopes for getting any direct grants. The main body charged with job creation in Ireland is the IDA. The Mid-West and, in particular, the West of Ireland is a black spot. I visited the IDA offices in New York one time and I saw that there was a black area all the way down as far as South Kerry. The IDA don’t go in there. That’s supposed to be for Shannon Development. So if you’re asking the IDA to come down here, their remit doesn’t run here,” he said.
“They’re not interested in Paddy the Irish man. They’d prefer if you had a nice Bostonian accent. You might be seen as a multi-national and they’d roll out the red carpet for you and give you all these grants. But it’s very difficult for an Irish man to get a grant from the IDA unfortunately,” Councillor Prendeville claimed.
Councillor Lynch maintained that the IDA give preference to urban centres when allocating grants.
“They’ve no problem giving grants to these companies to come to Limerick and they expect people from Carrigaholt and West Clare to move there. But yet they seem to be very slow giving grants to Kilrush and get people from the city to move back to this place. I want to know what their plans are and if they are going to give investment for specific areas or is the grant open to anyone and it’s up to us to sell our areas to these companies,” Councillor Lynch stated.
Mayor of Kilrush Mairéad O’Brien said if there is any form of investment available, Kilrush should seek to obtain it.
“If there are Foreign Direct Investment grants going, Kilrush Town Council needs to get our name in. It’s the squeaky hinge that gets the oil,” Councillor O’Brien commented.