Source: Drogheda Life

On Friday, 29 June 2018, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphries was accompanied on her visit to Drogheda by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD and Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD all of whom took the opportunity to chat with representatives of the various start-up companies based at the Mill.

Minister Humphreys seemed particularly taken by a Digipool a smart pool table developed by local games company Nebula Innovations who are based at the Mill. “There’s nothing like this in the Dáil Bar” she quipped.

It wasn’t all fun and games though, their discussions focused on regional investment, such as the €60m Regional Enterprise Development Fund, which backs initiatives that are led from the regions, and how businesses are responding to and preparing for Brexit.

“The Government is focused on ensuring that the business sector is prepared and resilient to face the challenges of Brexit and that we sustain the important progress made in developing the island economy”, Minister Breen said.

“In addition, the DTI Fund will ensure that Ireland continues to be a digital hotspot and that we stay at the forefront in exciting new areas such as Artificial Intelligence, advanced manufacturing and the bio-economy”, he added.

Turning to the new report by her Department on Project Ireland 2040, Project 2040: Investing in Business, Enterprise and Innovation 2018 – 2027 Minister Humphreys concluded:

“Project Ireland 2040 recognises that economic and social progress go hand in hand and are the engines that drive our economy. Through my Department’s investments outlined today, businesses and communities, wherever they may be, now have the platform to build on their own unique strengths and be part of a dynamic and exciting modern Ireland.”

“Our greatest need is local jobs” – Drogheda City status Group

The Drogheda City Status Group were less than impressed however. Their spokesman, Peter Monahan, said that whilst the group was pleased to see the investment forum happening in Drogheda, the emerging city’s greatest need was local jobs.

“Too many people in our community have long commutes to work or study in the Dublin area” he said, adding “it is incomprehensible that what is already Ireland’s largest town currently has no IDA designated site for inward investment as Drogheda rapidly evolves into a city.”

“Following considerable lobbying by business and community groups in the area, Drogheda which was omitted from the initial National Planning Framework was designated a development centre in ‘Ireland 2040’,” said Peter.

“Despite having over 80,000 people in the outer catchment and excellent infrastructure that includes the local port; the M1 motorway and high frequency rail links to Dublin and Belfast as well as being less than 30 minutes to Dublin Airport, Drogheda has not been a priority for job creation since Martin Cullen’s ill-fated National Spatial Strategy was introduced over a decade ago.

“We earnestly hope that this forum will focus on Drogheda’s urgent and growing need to create jobs locally. We want substance, not spin, and Government need to declare Drogheda as the obvious capital of the North East – an issue by-passed by the ‘Ireland 2040’ Plan,” said Peter.

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