Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jobs Minister defends performance after clash with FG TDs

Exaggeration: Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor. Picture by Fergal Phillips
Exaggeration: Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor. Picture by Fergal Phillips
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has said she will make "no apology" for suggesting that returning emigrants should be able to avail of a lower tax rate.

The minister, whose performance was heavily criticised by party colleagues at a private meeting on Wednesday, said she was working hard to create jobs for regional Ireland.

The Dun Laoghaire TD denied reports colleagues "tore strips" off her after she gave a Budget presentation to Fine Gael TDs and Senators.

"It's difficult enough to tear strips off me," she said, adding that reports were "exaggerated".

Sources told the Irish Independent that Ms Mitchell O'Connor came under fire from her party colleagues for the Government's response to Brexit and her own jobs strategy.

Read more: Tax break worth thousands to lure home emigrants

Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin and Clare TD Joe Carey engaged in what witnesses described as "fiery and frank". It is claimed the minister "struggled with the detail" of her presentation.

Asked about the meeting on Kildare FM, Ms Mitchell O'Connor said: "It's a private meeting. Often the reports are quite exaggerated.

"I do understand TDs, I do understand my Oireachtas' members, they want to make sure that jobs land in their constituencies.

"Obviously it has been very difficult. It is improving. We've had more jobs created outside Dublin this year through IDA and agencies than in Dublin," she said.

The minister also denied getting annoyed with TDs, saying: "I don't get cranky."

Ms Mitchell O'Connor was also criticised for trying to leave the meeting early, but explained she was scheduled to meet to met a group of Chinese investors who have created jobs in Dublin, Galway and Athlone. "I was heading to a meeting for seven o'clock. It's very rude to turn up at a Chinese meeting late. It's not like going to an Irish meeting," she said.

The row comes after Taoiseach Enda Kenny publicly shot down a proposal made by Ms Mitchell O'Connor for a special tax rate for returning emigrants.

However, she defended the idea, saying: "I don't make any apology for it. A lot of our emigrants went through college but because of the downturn and what happened they left but many would like to return to Ireland."

Irish Independent

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