Attempts to persuade the Government to force IDA Ireland to make some of its vacant land available to help alleviate the housing crisis continue to be rebuffed.
Both the Government and the State agency have said IDA Ireland must continue to keep land available to potential investors despite a severe lack of property to rent or buy, particularly in Dublin.
According to figures provided by the State agency, 27 per cent of IDA Ireland’s land bank is currently vacant but is being “actively marketed”.
Sinn Féin, which has raised the issue a number of times in recent months, touched on it again last week when Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan urged the Government to consider doing more to help those affected by the housing crisis.
Minister for State for Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan said: “IDA Ireland-owned sites are never left intentionally idle or vacant. In fact, from my experience the opposite is the case. IDA Ireland is doing everything it possibly can to showcase these properties to investors and to convince them to locate there.”
He added that while the Government was in contact with the agency and other State bodies about the issue, “it would be regressive if some of the locally-held IDA Ireland lands was not available if foreign companies came to regions looking to set up there.”
IDA’s landholding currently amounts to 4,389 hectares (10,845 acres), of which 3,219 hectares (7,954 acres) is occupied. IDA said the remaining 1,170 hectares (2,891 acres) is being “actively marketed”.
A spokeswoman for the agency said it had a responsibility to have zoned, serviced and developable land available to potential investors.
“The availability of suitable sites across Ireland has been key to IDA’s success in securing foreign direct investments. IDA strategic sites and business parks provide companies with fully-zoned service sites for development of suitable facilities, without these lands attracting FDI would be severely challenged,” the spokeswoman said.
“The availability of sites and property solutions for clients is a key element of IDA’s suite of marketing tools that is required to win projects in the competitive world of mobile investment. It also enables companies to expedite their investments and get started quickly. Having available land is essential to achieve regional investment,” she added.