Sunday 18 February 2018

IDA takes on just one of 10 allowed extra Brexit staff

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor
Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Colm Kelpie Brexit Correspondent

The IDA has so far managed to recruit just one of the 10 extra "Brexit" staff for which it received approval from the Government. A second post at the agency tasked with attracting foreign direct investment is "close to being finalised", according to Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

Requests to allow the agency to hold on to 35 employees that were on fixed-term contracts, as well as a proposal to restart the agency's graduate recruitment programme, have still yet to be approved - almost 11 months after that approval was sought.

Enterprise Ireland has managed to recruit 12 of the 39 Brexit staff for which it has received sanction.

The Government allocated €3m in Budget 2017 last October to boost resources in state agencies, including the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health and Safety Authority. Almost all of the money - more than €2.7m - was to be directly used to recruit more staff.

Enterprise Ireland received the bulk of the money, at €1.7m, followed by the IDA at €750,000. The Department was given €250,000.

The IDA has sought 21 additional staff resources to meet global challenges, such as Brexit, and the targets detailed in its strategy out to 2019, which includes 80,000 new jobs and 900 investments.

An IDA spokesman said: "The IDA is actively recruiting for all vacant positions within the organisation - we are at final-offer stage for a number of posts at the moment."

As reported in the Irish edition of The Times last month, the agency also submitted, in July of last year, a staff resourcing strategy to the Department, which sought sanction for retention of the 35 staff hired on three-year fixed-term contracts under the Winning Abroad programme.

It also sought to reinstate its graduate recruitment programme on a three-year contract basis.

"These latter two requests are still under consideration," Minister O'Connor said, in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail's Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly.

Sanction for 39 staff has been given for Enterprise Ireland to deal with the Brexit impact on exporting businesses, many of which have been dealt a blow from the weakening in sterling. Ms Mitchell O'Connor said 12 of the 39 posts had been filled, with the remaining 27 being actively sourced through recruitment processes.

She also said that serving staff in the agencies were working on Brexit issues on a day-to-day basis, and that Brexit had been prioritised in the agencies' work.

But Mr Donnelly - who has been among a number of politicians from Fianna Fáil and Labour to receive the data via parliamentary questions -described the progress on recruitment as "shocking".

"The Government has not yet woken up to the reality of the economic impact that Brexit will have on every region in Ireland," Mr Donnelly said.

"Moreover, their failure to properly resource and staff our state agencies means that we are also ill-prepared to capitalise on the potential gains that are to be had."

Meanwhile, the governor of the Bank of France has ramped up the rhetoric over moves to force euro clearing out of London post-Brexit, arguing the activity would not be effectively supervised if it remained in the UK.

Euro clearing must take place in countries where supervision "can be effective, and after Brexit I don't see how that can be in London", said François Villeroy de Galhau.

Irish Independent

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