On this Tuesday, Dan Neville TD responded to criticism from Deputy Niall Collins. He stated that “in the LimerickPost of 10th April in the article entitled ‘Collins says FG has no policy for Limerick jobs’ Niall Collins TD has accused Fine Gael of not including Limerick in its job plan. This is a bit rich coming from a Fianna Fail TD whose party has supervised the loss of thousands of jobs in County Limerick and it is a bit hard to take
May I remind Deputy Collins that on 6th February 2009, I with my 7 Fine Gael TD colleagues from the Mid-West led by Enda Kenny Fine Gael leader published a series of 13 proposals to support the people of Limerick and the Mid-West as they deal with the changing economic fortunes in the region. The proposals were launched in Limerick and were widely welcomed by local media. They include a new Centre for Energy Innovation and a special company support programme
The proposals are designed to support those directly affected by redundancy, businesses in the region and the region itself. Among the proposals are
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 1
The Government must fulfil its promise to release the committed funding to ensure that the Limerick Regeneration Project can commence immediately. This is critical in terms of housing, social, health and education as well as job creation potential.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 2
The Multi Agency Taskforce for Limerick and the Mid-West must:
- be expanded to include a representative of IDA Ireland,
- be given clear and targeted objectives, and
- produce an interim report within three months and a final report within 12 months
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 3
A dedicated and ring fenced marketing budget should be put in place to market Shannon Airport. This budget will have two specific and measurable goals:
- to promote Shannon as an entry point to regional airports in the United States of America and
- to promote new routes into Shannon for an 18 months period.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 4
Shannon Development should undertake a feasibility study into developing the Region as a specialist centre for ancillary financial services for the international transport sector. The focus of the sector should include the shipping and aviation sectors.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 5
The Adare Bypass project should commence in the short term, with the aim of improving the environment and tourism attractiveness of Adare.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 6
A Centre for Energy Innovation, to be based in University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology should be established. This will support the national goal of being a net exporter of green energy within a decade. It will also support change and innovation in the existing fossil fuel generation sector.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 7
Shannon Development, in conjunction with other State agencies, should produce a five year plan for tourism development in the Mid-West region. This plan should be completed by the end of September 2009. In the meantime, the Government should extend the deadline for applications to the Mid Shannon Investment Scheme.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 8
The Multi-Agency Task Force and the relevant state agencies must work together to minimise the impact of major manufacturing plant closures on the sub-supply sector. We propose the establishment of a dedicated project team challenged with the task of seeking replacement contracts at home and abroad.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 9
For companies that expand their workforce with new employees, employers should receive an employers’ PRSI holiday for 12 months for each new employee. This is already Fine Gael national policy.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 10
All State Enterprise Agencies operating at Regional, City or County level should devise a proactive review programme for individual companies to support job retention.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 11
Fás should provide structured career counselling for all affected by the changed economic scenario. This must include:
- Skills assessment and aptitude profiling.
- Linking individual skills gaps with identification of skills and education opportunities – both part-time and full-time.
- Given the scale and intensity of the job losses to run out of course or additional programmes as necessary and to offer new courses as required.
- Any time issues which act as a barrier to retraining or to education participation should be lowered so that newly redundant employees can immediately participate.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 12
The Government should mandate Fás to maximise the application and benefits of the EAGF for eligible activity in the Mid-West region.
FINE GAEL PROPOSAL 13
The County Enterprise Boards should act quickly to create tailored programmes on business creation in this economic environment, covering market assessment, financing and personal profiling
I believe that these proposals have put forward ideas so that there is some direction and hope for people who live and work in this region.
Deputy Collins is critical of Fine Gaels leadership in the local authorities. May I remind him that for 11 years of Limerick County Council, during a time that was flush with exchequer funds, his party raised all charges to the level now pertaining? Fine Gael controlled Limerick County Council in an unprecedented decision reduced the rates on business within 6 months of taking control