Deputy Micheal Martin is committed to investigating ways if making rural towns such as Tipperary, Thurles, Roscrea, Cashel, Templemore and Nenagh more attractive for potential investors, with the reduction of charges and rates top of the agenda.
Stating that the cost of establishing business in rural Ireland is 'excessive' and that there is a need to expand the country outside of the east coast, the Fianna Fail Leader said that some thinking outside the box is required.
"We produced an urban renewal proposal and the reality is that the cost of setting up businesses in rural Ireland is excessive. I would have a fresh look at reducing rates in rural areas where there has been an absence of development in recent times. I think there has been an excessive cost to an entrepreneur starting off”.
“ We have to get real here - when towns are dying on their feet, we have to say to all the stakeholders, you will get nothing out of this town if you don't allow it to breathe”.
“ We have to look at towns like Tipperary which historically has had challenges in terms of the removal of industries. How do you make it worth somebody's while to reinvest and start again make it work? The cost to do it is just too high in my view and that is something we are actively looking at," he said.
Deputy Jackie Cahill added that the Chairman of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) attended the recent Fianna Fail think-in and gave his views to those in attendance. However, Deputy Cahill added that nobody has even looked at Thurles, for instance, despite the tremendous infrastructure locally. This must change, he said.
Deputy Martin continued, "We built motorways to Cork and Limerick from Dublin and Tipp should be in an ideal position. There is a reasonable pharmaceutical base here and I am disappointed that this has not been built upon”.
“To me it seems an ideal location for foreign direct investment- the country is very lobsided and there is too much going on the east at the moment - they cannot cope," he said.
So, realistically, what can be done to bring industry and labour in the form of ex-pats, back to Tipperary?
"The key one is that the IDA needs to use the existing companies which are here to attract people back. But you need to get some key wins in terms of foreign direct investment and through Enterprise Ireland whose focus is on growing existing businesses. The raw material is here, there is no doubt about that," Micheal Martin said.