Friday 28 October 2016

Will the voters give credit for a good story on job creation?

Published 16/06/2015 | 02:30

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton at the announcement of 185 new posts to be created in Dublin and Wexford
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton at the announcement of 185 new posts to be created in Dublin and Wexford

Not even the black story of Clerys workers in Dublin, and impending job losses at Shannon Airport, could take the gloss off more job creation announcements yesterday.

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More than 250 jobs were announced across Ireland involving a range of technology and sports companies.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said 185 jobs would be created in Dublin and Wexford in five US companies and one European-based high-growth company.

These jobs will be spread across a number of sectors including technology, business analytics and medical devices. They continue a good story, which the opposition will find difficult to counter in the General Election as it draws ever nearer.

Everybody in politics knows that announcing job-creation targets is at best a lazy, aspirational carry-on. Too often it is a hostage to fortune.

So, nobody took things very seriously when the Government announced a target of 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2016.

As unemployment stood at more than 15pc, this writer felt it might be best to gently judge perhaps a partial meeting of the target in due course, so as not to unduly add to the terrible demoralisation.

But on the day before the marriage equality vote, on May 21, the target was met - fully 18 months ahead of time. The Government is also preparing to counteract arguments that it is a Dublin and east coast phenomenon, saying that out of the 104,600 jobs created since early 2012, fewer than half were in Dublin and the so-called mid east region.

"The strongest-performing regions are the South East, with an increase of 11.3pc, followed by the Border, up 9.3pc, and Midlands, up 8.8pc," an official said.

Does this mean Enda Kenny & Co are set for another term?

Before you answer, consider the last time a Fine Gael-led government sought re-election. "Under the three-legged coalition the economy boomed, job creation hit new peaks. There were awful clichés trotted out as shorthand for Ireland's massive growth rates aligned to low inflation."

That was the summation by the late lamented commentator Gerald Barry of the state of the economy as John Bruton's rainbow coalition sought re-election in June 1997.

With a story like that to tell, how could a government fail to win voter confidence?

Well, history reminds us that gratitude is frequently a scarce commodity in politics.

"It didn't work for the government. People said: 'So what, isn't that what they're supposed to do?' If they expected thanks, they didn't get it," Barry summed up at the time.

"It's the economy, stupid," US election guru James Carville told Bill Clinton's presidential campaign workers.

It turned out not to have a ubiquitous application.

It will be a big part of the two governing parties' challenge to ensure there is no repeat of 1997 in the upcoming General Election.

Irish Independent

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