In just over twelve months unemployment has increased by 184,061. In January and February almost 1,000 people lost their jobs every day. The government’s budget last October did nothing to stimulate the economy. As of now, unemployment figures will far exceed the projected figure of 400,000 by the end of the year. This is a crisis that cannot continue.
The state’s public finances are in freefall. The financial sector is collapsing, creating a cash flow crisis for Irish businesses. The haemorrhage of jobs is now hitting revenue intake, while increasing demand on social welfare and wasting the talents and ability of a whole generation. Putting Irish workers back to work is the essential first step to resolving this crisis.
The number one priority for any government at this point should be retaining and creating jobs. It should be getting Ireland back to work.
The government needs a three-year plan to hold on to or create the 1,000 jobs a day that are being lost. This means quickly identifying viable companies that need immediate help. It means identifying where jobs are going to be created over the next 3-5 years and bringing together FÁS, VECs, colleges and universities to up- skill the workforce. It means fostering a real innovation culture. And most critically, quarterly targets need to be set and delivered.
The economy can be turned around. Despite the difficulties, there are still huge opportunities if the right plan is put in place and real leadership is shown. This is where the government is failing. And realistically the people that got us into this mess are unlikely to be the people to get us out of the problem. New ideas require new people.
We have an opportunity to reshape the country. A recovery plan must focus on ensuring we come out of this recession ready for the future - that we have the infrastructure, skills and public services that will put us at the top of competitiveness rankings, as well as delivering improved quality of life for all our citizens.
This document ‘Getting Ireland Back to Work’ contains more than 80 proposals, which Sinn Féin believes are urgently required. It sets out specific measures for:
- Job retention
- Job creation
- All-Ireland economic development
- Stimulating consumer spending
- Education and training
We will be presenting this document to the government and meeting with employers, workers, enterprise boards and groups across the country in the coming weeks to discuss the recommendations in the report. We will also be publishing a public finance document outlining where we believe revenue can be raised and savings made
and what is required in the longer term in relation to how the state raises finance. In addition, we will publish a separate Oireachtas report on the future of farming and fisheries, and we intend to develop a separate set of proposals on the tourism sector, which directly and indirectly employs so many people in this state and last year was responsible for over €6 billion of GDP.