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Regional jobs strategy shows Government has eye on next election, not job creation – Tóibín T.D.

11 February, 2015

Sinn Féin Jobs Spokesperson Peadar Tóibín has described the Government’s regional enterprise strategy as high on promise and low on delivery. Timing its implementation for the dying days of this administration reveals its primary purpose, that of an election manifesto commitment rather than an urgent action plan on jobs for rural Ireland.

The Meath West TD said:

“Labour and Fine Gael’s 2014 Action Plan for Jobs promised to deliver the regional enterprise strategy framework published today by June of last year. We are now told that the framework will be trialled in the Midlands before being rolled out across the eight regions by July of this year. It is unlikely government will meet this deadline, and even if achieved it will be over a year late. Labour and Fine Gael have little interest in regional development, but they do have an eye to the elections, so rural Ireland should be forgiven if they view this development with a sceptical eye.

“Of particular note is the failure of the Government to attach regional job creation targets to the framework. Employment has fallen in the West and South West, as have the numbers in the labour force in other regions. Not only does the framework have to tackle unemployment, it must also create the right environment for emigrants to return home. Despite a marginal improvement over the last year the IDA has been deficient to date with regards to regionalisation, and in the absence of clear job creation targets then it is likely this trend will continue.

“New structures arising from this framework will need resourcing and we know many Local Enterprise Offices across the state are already understaffed. Sinn Féin welcomes the input of a range of local organisations and stake holders but if Government will is missing this model will be nothing more than pre-election window dressing. There is nothing regards the A5 project, deficient broadband, the potential for bio refinery in the south east, regeneration of Cork Docklands, or work on the Rosslare deep sea port.

“The omission of all-Ireland bodies or cross border projects in today’s announcement is yet further evidence of this Government’s disinterest in not only the north but also the border counties. Producing a regional enterprise plan that does not mention the all island economy is both economically and geographically blind.

“It is not clear from today’s announcement if the monies assigned to the strategy are additional funding streams or restatements of existing allocations. The bottom line is the Government has been working on this framework for over 12 months and what they have produced today is a mere 21 pages of scant detail for growing rural enterprise. There are no targets, little by way of new ideas, no proposals for new regional clusters, no proposals for increasing micro and small businesses access to public procurement, no new strategy for e-commerce to stop the flight of Irish on-line sales to businesses outside of Ireland, or an ambitious strategy for supply chain linkages between indigenous Irish businesses and Foreign Direct Investment industries’.” 

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