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Government claims steady progress in jobs action plan

THE Government has claimed it has made steady progress on its Action Plan for Jobs initiative, which aims to create 100,000 roles across the country by 2016.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said 96pc of measures outlined for the first quarter have been achieved - 80 of 83 aspects of the plan have been implemented in the last three months.

"This is just the first step in an annual plan to help rebuild our economy," said Mr Kenny.

"In the next three months we will build on actions rolled out to date and aim to deliver another 77 measures to support job creation with initiatives on business costs, broadband, procurement, red tape, industry-led innovation and much more."

Among the actions taken so far in the four-year plan was the launch of the "Succeed in Ireland" initiative, which is aimed at creating 5,000 jobs in five years.

A new potential exporters division was also set up within Enterprise Ireland. The Taoiseach said this could target around 1,800 new exporting companies.

Following the positive report, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted it was not an excuse for the Government to give itself a pat on the back.

He said it was a genuine report to track the country's progress on its return to economic stability.

While Mr Kenny said he had confidence in the action plan, he admitted job creation was impeded by a lack of confidence in the eurozone and small businesses failing to access credit.

He repeated calls for a yes vote in the forthcoming stability treaty referendum.

The public will vote on May 31 on whether Ireland should ratify the European fiscal compact, which will see stricter budgetary rules and penalties for member states who fail to meet them.

It will also ensure Ireland has access to emergency funds through Europe should it ever require another bailout.