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 Header Item Foreign Direct Investment (Continued)
 Header Item Job Losses

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Perry): Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry I thank Deputy Tom Hayes for raising this important issue.

IDA Ireland's primary responsibility is to attract foreign direct investment, FDI, to Ireland and to grow and expand FDI companies in Ireland in the face of strong international competition. In accordance with its strategy, Horizon 2020, which covers the period 2010 to 2014, IDA Ireland is working to create 62,000 direct jobs in 640 investment projects over the period, resulting in an additional 105,000 jobs overall in the economy, with 50% of investments being located in areas outside of Dublin and Cork. The strategy also confirms that IDA Ireland will continue to work with its existing client companies in Ireland to transform the existing FDI base to develop, retain and grow employment in these companies.

IDA Ireland has assured me that it continues to work with all its client companies in Tipperary and across the country to ensure their long-term sustainability and encourage their growth and development, the broadening of their mandates and the continuing re-investment in their sites. There are 12 IDA Ireland client companies in the whole of County Tipperary, employing almost 3,700 people on a permanent basis.

The global economy, in particular the European economy, which is the primary target market for FDI clients in Ireland, is in a low growth phase. The challenge for IDA Ireland is to win FDI in this low growth environment. As Ireland competes for investments at the highest end of the value chain, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading corporations require a significant population of highly qualified talent, effective physical and digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of sophisticated professional support services. To best address this challenge, IDA Ireland prioritises the marketing of gateway locations within each region as the locations of critical mass, that is, sufficient scale of population, skills, infrastructure, companies, business services, etc. and highlights the opportunities provided by hub locations which are within commuting distances of these gateways. In addition, IDA Ireland promotes other locations as part of its marketing efforts and in response to specific client requirements. With continuing enhancement and improvements in physical and digital infrastructure, an FDI project secured for one gateway economic region has a positive impact on other gateway economic regions and surrounding areas.

Because Tipperary is divided into two administrative regions, Tipperary North is part of IDA Ireland's mid-west region along with counties Clare and Limerick, while Tipperary South is part of IDA Ireland's south-east region, along with Waterford, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny.

In addition, the provision of flexible and cost-effective property solutions has been a key aspect in developing differentiating regional value propositions and attracting FDI into regional economic locations. For example, in Tipperary, the availability of the 300 acre park at Clonmel business park could facilitate the creation of investment and employment opportunities from FDI and from projects supported by Enterprise Ireland, EI.

Strong performance was seen in 2011 in the level of FDI won by Ireland. IDA Ireland client companies created more than 13,000 new jobs in 2011, despite the current global economic situation and a strong increase in international competition. This strong performance has continued into 2012 and, to date, there have been 81 IDA announcements with the potential to create in the region of 8,550 jobs.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes I thank the Minister for the information and bringing us up to speed. I acknowledge that IDA Ireland has been quite helpful in the many projects in Tipperary. However, on the issue of empty factories in the county, there is an advance factory in Tipperary town which is top class, and two more sites available. In Cashel, Johnson & Johnson had a state-of-the-art facility which was closed almost two years ago. At that stage, we were given to believe that either an investor would be taking it over or Johnson & Johnson would reinvest in it. That has not happened and the facility lies idle. In Clonmel, as the Minister of State correctly states in his response, there is a 300 acre business park. That has been there for many years. I do not want to be negative about the county. Certainly, there are many good developments in it.

I emphasise that at a time when we are coming out of this mess and after yesterday's budget, there is no doubt there is light at the end of the tunnel. American firms will look at this country and we must be ready. The reason I raise this is to highlight how Tipperary is a great place in which to work and live because it is so accessible now. I would make one further point on the two administrative counties. The decision about the two administrative counties, Tipperary North and Tipperary South, has been taken by the Government and we are a long way down the road of the amalgamation process. Hence, Tipperary is in a far better position to market itself as a county with wonderful places and I want IDA Ireland and the Minister to acknowledge that.

I will press hard over the next few months and years to ensure there are jobs created for the highly educated young people who would otherwise be leaving our shores, and for those who have gone to Australia, America and Canada and would prefer to be here. I urge the Minister of State, Deputy Perry, to bring what I have said back to the Minister. I know he will do that. I want to see action at the highest level for my county.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry The Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, who is in Brussels this evening, sends his apologies to the Deputy. The challenge ahead of us all in Government, in Departments and in agencies is to do everything possible to ensure this strong flow of jobs and investments continues. This means we must concentrate on developing indigenous industry, in particular, the small and medium-sized enterprise sector, and yesterday's budget was a good start. We cannot forget that 129 Enterprise Ireland client companies employ a total of 4,547 people in Tipperary.

Deputy Hayes has raised this issue on numerous occasions and the Minister, Deputy Bruton, assured me he would speak to the Deputy directly on this. Earlier this week the Minister and I announced that Enterprise Ireland had established a new micro-enterprise and small business division to spearhead the delivery of an enhanced national enterprise support model to entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2013. This is a key part of the Government's plans to restructure the support infrastructure for small businesses and represents delivery of a key action under the Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

The micro-enterprise and small business division will develop a world-class centre of excellence providing best-in-class support to entrepreneurs and small business in the execution of a national micro-enterprise policy. The new business support model will also see the establishment next year of local enterprise offices, LEOs, in Tipperary in the local authority network, and these new offices will deliver services and support to the micro and small business sectors on behalf of Enterprise Ireland.

The Enterprise Start programme is a one-day information workshop which forms part of Enterprise Ireland's entrepreneurship development activity. Two regional workshops for the mid-west, which includes north Tipperary, were held on 21 March and 10 November 2012 in Shannon which 20 potential entrepreneurs attended. An Enterprise Start programme will be held by El in Clonmel on 12 December.

We must also strengthen links between multinational companies and the rest of the economy in order that the full benefit of these major investments can feed through to the domestic economy, for example, through supply chain opportunities and mentoring for SMEs. In this regard, in accordance with the Action Plan for Jobs, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have formed a senior management team to maximise the impact of their resources, staff numbers and budget, to deliver on their respective targets in terms of job creation, investments and economic spend in the economy. If Deputy Hayes wants to arrange a meeting directly with IDA Ireland, that can be facilitated as well.

Job Losses

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me highlight this important issue, the recent loss of 100 jobs at Ericsson in Athlone. The implications of this on the local and national economy are undisputed, as is the need for the Minister, Deputy Bruton, and my friend, the Minister of State, Deputy Perry, in tandem with IDA Ireland, to support the workers and prioritise jobs for the midlands. I have been seeking a debate on the cutbacks since the announcement on 8 November.

I fully support the need to put every structure in place to assist the workers who have lost so much, and who must be given every assistance to gain new employment. My thoughts are with these workers and their families and I hope to work with the Minister in a positive way to assist them. All the supports of the State must be made available to these workers and their families. This is an issue about which my colleague, Deputy McFadden, is also very concerned.

Ericsson employs 700 people in Athlone and 1,200 countrywide. These jobs must be protected. The supports the Minister plans to put in place are of the utmost importance in the context of the potential fallout for workers from what the company describes as global restructuring.

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