Thursday 23 February 2017

Even Cowen's backyard lost out on new IDA jobs

Aine Kerr, Political Correspondent

Half of Taoiseach Brian Cowen's Laois-Offaly constituency failed to win a single Industrial Development Agency (IDA) job last year as unemployment blackspots vied for jobs.

No new IDA posts were created in Co Laois, which is in Mr Cowen's constituency.

His native county of Offaly fared only marginally better than its next-door neighbour, attracting just 22 jobs in IDA companies.

Two other regions -- Kilkenny and Tipperary North -- also failed to win a single IDA job in what IDA chief Barry O'Leary described as a "disastrous year" for employment creation.

Every other county secured a share of the 4,610 jobs created by IDA-supported companies in 2009, according to figures provided by the Department of Enterprise. But the country haemorrhaged jobs, with 18,028 jobs in IDA-backed companies being lost.

The worst-hit areas were Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway, as the numbers on the Live Register hurtled to more than 400,000. But Co Kildare suffered greater job losses than Galway city, with 1,491 jobs disappearing in 2009, compared with 1,178 in Galway.

Under a new strategy, the IDA is now targeting places such as Limerick, Waterford, Sligo and Donegal for 50pc of the new foreign direct investment jobs created by the IDA.

The job-creating body now hopes to attract enough foreign investment to create 105,000 new jobs by 2014.

But despite the ambitious and positive targets, Mr O'Leary has conceded that there will be more pain along the way.

While Ireland is recovering its competitive edge, some Irish-based multinationals had excess capacity around the world

Inevitable

Mr O'Leary said that it was inevitable that some of this excess capacity would be in Ireland.

Earlier this month, the number of people losing their jobs finally stabilised amid fears that unemployed young males were being forced to emigrate to find work.

Unemployment dropped for the first time since September last year as the number of people signing on to the dole fell by more than 2,000 last month

But Fine Gael's Damien English said the Government must now boost its funding to the IDA so that it can target more jobs for the country's 400,000 unemployed people.

Areas such as Tipperary North are still without broadband and that is diminishing their chances of attracting new business.

"Certain areas seem to do better than others. . . and you'll have ministers in their area claiming credit when they do. We need more balanced opportunities," Mr English said.

Last week's reshuffle saw Tanaiste Mary Coughlan being replaced as Enterprise Minister by Batt O'Keeffe -- a move welcomed by Fine Gael.

"Batt O'Keeffe is more practical in his approach. He has a hands-on approach and does the simple things. The Government needs someone who will take action and hard decisions. What's needed is a major shake-up and he's the best of a bad lot to do it," he said.

Irish Independent

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