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Tuesday 25 October 2016

Taoiseach wants 25,000 jobs for west with ambitious growth plan

Caroline Crawford and David Raleigh

Published 17/11/2015 | 02:30

A JOBS plan for the west aims to deliver 25,000 extra jobs for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

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The West Action Plan for Jobs aims to deliver up to 15pc employment growth over a four-year period.

The ambitious plan includes almost 200 different proposals - from traineeships to IDA investments - all designed to boost confidence and job creation in the region.

For food companies, there is the planned creation of a "food innovation hub" to help producers expand their operations.

The plan aims to increase the number of start-ups in the region by at least 25pc.

The number of IDA investments in the area will increase by between 30pc and 40pc up to 2019 while the IDA will also build facilities in Castlebar and Galway.

Local enterprise offices will provide €3m in grant funding, and 540 new jobs will be created in Gaeltacht regions, focusing on life sciences, mariculture and food.

The jobs plan also aims to boost jobs in tourism, develop marine research and the ocean energy industry, as well as boosting employment in the arts.

Traineeships in engineering, hospitality, logistics and transport, and the TV and film sectors are also planned. The recession hit the west hard and, from 2008 to 2011, 27,400 jobs were lost across the region.

Launching the initiative in Castlebar yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that while the recovery was beginning to take hold across the country, the Government was keenly aware it was not yet being felt by every family.

"The plan sets out a clear pathway to unlock the potential of the region and is very inclusive.

"No single agency can bring jobs to a region - this takes collaboration and that is at the heart of this plan," he added.

Mr Kenny dismissed concerns that such job announcements often fail to materialise into concrete positions, insisting the aim was to grow confidence in each locality to ensure the programmes take hold.

"While you'd like to think that because the Government have come to town, that jobs can be turned on like that. It's not that way, it never was," he added.

However, Fianna Fáil's jobs spokesperson Dara Calleary accused the Government of rolling out yet another regional jobs plan without any new ideas or specific targets.

"Much like Enterprise 2025, which the Government launched last week, this latest Action Plan for Jobs is full of vague promises and reheated ideas which have been floated numerous times over the past 18 months.

"While the Government pays lip-service to the regions with these launches, in practice it continues to focus all its energy on the greater Dublin area, further fuelling the two-tier economy," he added.

The plan is the fifth of eight regional strategies to be published by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who opened a new enterprise centre in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, yesterday, said rural Ireland is experiencing the green shoots of economic recovery.

He was speaking as 85 new jobs were announced at DesignPro in Rathkeale, an indigenous automation and machine build services company, which currently employs 25 people.

The town was left devastated in 2013 when costume jewellery plant Andersen shut its doors with the loss of 170 jobs. The former jewellery plant was renovated at a cost of €500,000 and is now home to six local companies.

DesignPro plans to double its workforce to 50 by 2017 and to employ 110 people by 2020.

Irish Independent

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