Wednesday 7 December 2016

Employers warn 60,000 jobs at risk from 'instability'

Cormac McQuinn, Gavin McLoughlin, Sarah McCabe and Barry Lennon

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny visits the Joe Duffy Motors BMW garage in Finglas, Dublin, where he meets apprentice Dean Tang. Photo: Barry Cronin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny visits the Joe Duffy Motors BMW garage in Finglas, Dublin, where he meets apprentice Dean Tang. Photo: Barry Cronin

The creation of 60,000 jobs this year could be put at risk if an "unstable or anti-enterprise government" is formed, the boss of employers' lobby group Ibec has warned.

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Danny McCoy raised his concerns following the publication of a letter by 11 business leaders who warned political instability will threaten jobs.

Politicians, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, have also echoed the fears contained in the letter to the Irish Independent that was signed by executives from major firms. The companies included Boston Scientific, CRH, Smurfit Kappa and the Dublin Airport Authority.

The warning comes as polls increasingly suggest that a hung Dáil - or a government supported by an array of Independents - is a very real prospect.

"Irish business can create a further 60,000 new jobs in 2016, but hiring plans could be threatened if the election results in an unstable or anti-enterprise government," Mr McCoy said.

"Business will deliver more jobs over the coming years, but the conditions must be right," he added. He warned of the situation in both Greece and Portugal and said uncertainty was the "enemy of business".

IBEC expect around 15,000 jobs to be created in the construction industry alone this year. The technical and professional services sector will be the next largest area of growth followed by manufacturing, the lobby group believe on the basis of hiring surveys.

Speaking at the launch of Fine Gael's plan for more apprenticeships, the Taoiseach vowed to use the remainder of the campaign to promote the outgoing Coalition's economic track record.

Independents

"I have every faith in the Irish electorate that they will not want to create instability or confusion at a very critical time..."

He added: "While they mightn't love us, at least they have respect for the way that the economy has moved in the right direction."

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman Michael McGrath also issued a warning of "instability" if a large number of Independents were elected.

Meanwhile, his colleague, Sean Fleming, raised the prospect of forming a coalition which involves the Labour Party, Renua and the Social Democrats.

Jobs minister Richard Bruton emphasised the importance of building the export market to help Ireland's "small open economy" to succeed.

Mr Bruton argued that Fianna Fáil had forgotten this when it was in power.

He claimed that none of the opposition parties "have mentioned exports".

Meanwhile, Margot Slattery, chief executive of Sodexo Ireland, a subsidiary of the French outsourcing giant, said: "In recent years we have enjoyed stability and growth so I would like to see more of that.

"I don't want to see the progress made destabilised," she added. Her organisation employs 2,000 people in Ireland.

On the possibility of Sinn Féin in government, she said: "From an international perspective I have heard some fears voiced...

"International colleagues are wary about the party's tax policies and reputation.

"I think if Sinn Féin is going to make its way into government it should happen slowly, perhaps as one of a three-part coalition."

In their letter the 11 business leaders warned that political uncertainty will drive up the cost of borrowing - as has happened in Portugal.

Irish Independent

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