Government must prioritise job creation – BREEN

February 26th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Speaking during his contribution on the Fine Gael Private Members Motion calling on the government to prioritise job creation, Deputy Breen said “I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I congratulate Deputy Varadkar for bringing this very timely issue before the House this week. Our unemployment rates are now at 12.9%, among the highest in the OECD countries, and in the period from January to October 2009 a new economic report stated that Ireland had the second highest unemployment rate in the 15 to 24 age group in the 25 countries compared, which is very serious.
There is real concern, particularly in regard to the number of people who have signed on the live register in the first three months of last year. We have to break the cycle of unemployment. What is needed is creative and innovative thinking but, more importantly, it will require the determination of the Government to create the environment where people who have ideas and can create jobs are given the necessary support.
I received a telephone call last week from a young man in north Clare in my constituency whose family have been involved in the tourism business all their lives and have an established business. The young man wanted to acquire another property adjacent to his own property but the banks turned down his application for a loan despite having his account books and records. Despite the fact the banks are advertising along the lines of “Come in and talk to us. We will give you a loan”, they are not giving out loans. The reality is that the taxpayers’ money which has been injected into the banks through NAMA is not resulting in the flow of credit to businesses.
We will lose out on a generation of young people. Many of the graduates will face the dole queues or emigrate if we do not exploit the best ideas available. Like Deputy O’Mahony, I congratulate Mr. Martin McAleese on his initiative, “Your Country, Your Call”, which is geared to supporting ideas whereby we hope we can create jobs. The Government should follow the lead of Dr. McAleese and set up a national think tank where all job creation ideas could be fed to those with real potential and acted upon. We should be compiling a skills database of unemployed workers throughout the country and making this database available to FÁS, to new and existing companies which are looking for staff, and to organisations such as Shannon Development, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and other job creation agencies.
Unemployment in my area, the mid-west region, is 1% higher than the national average. There was an 11% drop in the numbers employed in industries in the Shannon free zone last year. Shannon Airport is the key economic driver in the region for the creation of aviation jobs and will be pivotal to any recovery in the region. One of the proposals with the potential to create jobs is the Lynxs Cargo project, and I would reiterate the urgency of giving this project the go-ahead. However, more is required. Passenger numbers have dived at the airport and further turbulence is in the air, with the loss of 18 Ryanair destinations on the cards.
The Government and its agencies have a role to play. Fine Gael has a plan for job creation. The Government should get on with doing the job and make unemployment a priority.