IDA boss Martin Shanahan
Planning is expected to be lodged "in the coming months" for an advanced technology building in Carlow, it has been revealed.
Carlow TD, Pat Deering, raised the issue with Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, about IDA Ireland's acquisition of a suitable site for the Carlow ATB.
The Minister has revealed that construction is scheduled to begin in late 2019 or early 2020, subject to planning permission being granted.
Minister Humphreys said: "As part of its €150 million regional property programme, IDA Ireland is directly investing in a building programme to help ensure that property solutions are in place for overseas companies.
"I understand that IDA Ireland has now completed the acquisition of a suitable site for the Carlow advanced technology building, ATB, and has appointed a design team, which is working on the detailed plans for the building.
"Planning permission is expected to be lodged in the coming months. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2019 or early 2020, subject to planning permission being granted.
"I know that this issue is very important and that the Deputy has worked very hard on it. I am pleased it has been resolved with the successful acquisition of land in Carlow.
"The agency has assured me, subject of course to planning permission, that the facility will now proceed according to schedule.
"I look forward to visiting the building once it is complete and I have every confidence that it will be a significant asset to Carlow in attracting further multinational investment into the town and the wider region."
Deputy Deering said: "I thank the Minister for her answer. I am glad to hear that the acquisition has been completed. I was concerned this would not happen for a long time as the dates were being pushed out further and further.
"This will be a key driver and major confidence boost for the local economy.
"In the past, we have seen the development of similar advanced technology buildings and we ended up with the building in Carlow town of a top-class Merck Sharp & Dohme facility, which is now extending into a second building.
"When complete, it will employ more than 800 people directly and another 300 or 400 indirectly in the next two years.
"We need something similar to be developed once this facility is built. Obviously, planning permission is required first but I encourage the Minister to apply pressure to make sure this does not drag on any longer.
"She indicated deadlines and dates in her response. These must be very firm. We have seen them drag on through no fault of the Minister.
"At this stage, this is a kind of pet project. Every other Question Time I put this question on the Minister's agenda, as she knows.
"It is very important to the local area and I encourage her to ensure that it does not drag on any further and that the deadlines she has indicated will be those that will actually deliver the project on time.
"I look forward to welcoming the Minister in 2020, before the next general election, to turn the sod on this facility."
Minister Humphreys added: "As the Deputy knows, the agency did not own the land in Carlow and had to acquire a site through the open market.
"This was a lengthy and complicated process that resulted in the overall completion objective for the facility being delayed.
"I will certainly keep a close eye on the timelines I have given the Deputy and I have no doubt he will keep an even closer eye on them.
"I look forward to the completion of the facility. The Deputy has been raising this matter with me since I became Minister about a year and a half ago."
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