Saturday 24 March 2018

We have the intelligence and skill to turn country around

Return of entrepreneurial spirit is vital if the Irish manufacturing sector is to become competitive again, writes Sean Quinn

Having grown up and lived all of my life on the Ferma-nagh/Cavan border, I have always been acutely aware of the role that local sustainable businesses play in maintaining the social fabric of Irish society. There are a number of local family businesses, such as Kingspan and ourselves (Quinn Group), which I feel have been able to make a positive contribution by keeping our operations local, while at the same time developing a strong national and international presence.

While multinationals have played an important role in our economic development in recent decades, some have also demonstrated a willingness to move operations to lower-cost economies suddenly and without warning -- with devastating consequences for their Irish employees and local economies. One has only to recall the closure of the Dell plant in Limerick last year and there are many other examples.

The level of unemployment now, particularly in the under-25 age bracket, is deeply worrying. Having experienced this first-hand in the Seventies and Eighties I am very conscious of the extreme negative impact that youth unemployment and forced emigration has on family life, the local communities left behind and the country as a whole; an impact that can take a generation to arrest. It should be a priority at national level to develop plans and initiatives that can stem this draining of the future lifeblood of our economy and our society.

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