Saturday 3 December 2016

'Who are these people?' SME chiefs profess no knowledge of Ireland's business ministers

Published 09/08/2015 | 02:30

We had asked small businesses to identify the Ministers of State with business portfolios and they didn't do too well - the first is Ged Nash
We had asked small businesses to identify the Ministers of State with business portfolios and they didn't do too well - the first is Ged Nash
Damien English
Sean Sherlock

The Sunday Independent Small Business Owners survey 2015 found the vast majority of Irish business owners have no idea who many of the government ministers with responsibility for business are.

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We asked small businesses to identify the Ministers of State with business portfolios - Ged Nash, Damien English and Sean Sherlock - and even for the best-recognised Minister, fewer than a quarter knew who he was.

One respondent summarised the Ministers of State with business portfolios as "entirely forgettable".

The survey found that 24pc of SME owners knew that Labour 'Super Minister' Ged Nash was the Minister for State with responsibility for small business.

The 39-year-old politician was appointed to his role at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle and was elected to the Dail for the first time in 2011. Nash's role as a Super Junior Minister means that he attends cabinet meetings, but does not have a vote.

Less recognisable was Fine Gael politician and Minister of State with responsibility for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English. Just over one in ten - 11pc - of respondents could identify English as the minister responsible. He had previously served as Fine Gael's deputy spokesperson on Enterprise, with responsibility for Small Business and Labour Affairs from 2007 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2011 he was party deputy spokesperson on Finance. Before he was appointed to his current role the Meath TD was also chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation.

The least recognised of the three Ministers of State with responsibility for business was the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Development and Trade.

If you did not know that Sean Sherlock is the incumbent in the role, you are in the same boat as the 95pc of business owners who responded. Just 5pc could name Sherlock as the Minister for State responsible, with three times as many respondents - 15pc - believing that Sherlock's predecessor, Labour TD Joe Costello, was still in the role.

Sherlock was also appointed in the July 2014 cabinet reshuffle and previously served as Minister of State, for Research & Innovation.

According to Mark Fielding, chief executive of ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Sized Enterprises Association, Ministers of State with responsibility for the various parts of the business portfolio are moved too often to be able to have any impact, let alone have anyone recognise who they are.

"The difficulty is that the nature of a coalition means that halfway through the lifetime of a government, the other party needs to 'get a go' on the junior ministries, which is what you see here and that does nothing for small business", he said.

Fielding also took a swipe at Minister for State Ged Nash, who he said seems to side too often with employees.

Sunday Indo Business

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