State-backed jobs scheme produces 40 roles in first year
A government-backed jobs scheme aimed at creating thousands of jobs produced only 40 roles during its first year.
The "ConnectIreland" scheme was launched to huge fanfare last year and promised to create about 5,000 jobs over five years.
Under the plan, which was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton last March, the Government targeted areas of business that were not supported by other state-backed schemes such as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.
The initiative offered €1,500 to anyone who created a sustainable job in Ireland and was hailed as a "key component" of the Government's action plan for jobs
Since it was launched, though, the scheme has fallen short of expectations. In a reply to a question from Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty, Mr Bruton said: "Two projects, with the potential to create 40 jobs, have been approved and 10 jobs have been created. There have been 54 referrals registered, with potential to receive a reward. The potential number of jobs which may be delivered from these 54 referrals is in the region of 1,500," he added.
Nobody has received the €1,500 "finder's fee" yet, as that is not payable until the jobs have been established for at least two years.
Despite the low numbers, a spokesman for ConnectIreland defended the scheme, claiming there was little prospect of mass job creation in its first year.
"We began from a standing start last March, so much of the past 10 months has been spent building relationships and getting our name out to companies in the first place.
"Unlike some of the more established development agencies we have had to build our credibility in the market and earn a reputation as a serious agency," he said.
The spokesman added that year one was always expected to be a slow year in terms of jobs created but that there was no question of the 5,000 jobs target being dropped.
"That is absolutely still the target for us. In a scheme like this, the back-end years are always the time when most of the jobs are created.
"So far we have 10 jobs operational and there are 30 others being recruited for and have registered interest from 54 other firms so we are very happy with where we are," he added.
ConnectIreland, chaired by Taxback.com founder Terry Clune, allows anyone to put forward themselves or companies to create jobs here.
Last night a spokesman for Minister Bruton backed the scheme, saying: "Lead-in times for IDA job-creation projects from first contact to approval can be lengthy, with averages of two years in many sectors.
"It also should be noted that this scheme costs the taxpayer nothing until such point as any job has been in place for two years," he added.