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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 567 - 581
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item Low Pay Commission Remit
 Header Item Income Inequality
 Header Item European Fund for Strategic Investments
 Header Item Job Losses
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises Supports
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Foreign Direct Investment

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 567 - 581

Road Projects

 567. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding compulsory purchase orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15521/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and operation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within ten working days.

  The referred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Legislative Process

 568. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the reason for the delay and the proposed timeframe for the Companies (Accounting) Bill 2016 being enacted. [15447/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Companies (Accounting) Bill 2016 passed all Stages in Dáil Éireann on 22 March 2017. It is scheduled for Second Stage in Seanad Éireann on 4 April 2017. The timing of enactment of the Bill will depend on the availability of parliamentary time.    

  Both the Bill and the Accounting Directive (Directive 2013/34/EU), which it transposes, are technical pieces of legislation. This has meant that a number of complex issues have arisen during the transposition process. As a result, enactment has taken longer than hoped.    

  In order to mitigate the effects of this delay, section 14 of the Bill provides that companies may apply, in certain circumstances, provisions of the Bill to financial statements in respect of financial years that commenced in 2015 and later.

Low Pay Commission Remit

 569. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor her plans to widen the remit of the Low Pay Commission and to task it to examine CEO pay, specifically, the highest and lowest paid CEOs and the median and average pay of CEOs; if she will undertake a comparison to that of employees and workers in this regard and include incentives additional to pay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14897/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Low Pay Commission was established through the National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015.  Its principal function is, once each year, to examine the national minimum hourly rate of pay and to make a recommendation to the Minister respecting the rate, ensuring that all decisions are evidence-based, fair and sustainable, and do not create significant adverse consequences for employment or competitiveness.

The National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015 does empower the Minister to request the Low Pay Commission to examine and report it views and make recommendations beyond its core remit of setting the national minimum wage. Such requests must be made to the Commission before the end of February each year and form part of the Commission’s work programme.

Requests in this context were made to the Commission in 2016 in order to obtain a better understanding of the impact of the national minimum wage on younger people and to establish the reasons behind the preponderance of women on the national minimum wage. The Commission reported on these matters in October 2016.

The Commission’s work programme for 2017 is already in place and as well as its core work on examining the appropriate minimum wage for 2018, the Commission is also reviewing the board and lodging rates that are provided for in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000. It is due to report on this issue by the end of April. The Commission has also been asked to review the length of time spent on the national minimum wage and whether it is a stepping stone to higher pay for people as they get older and the extent to which lack of progression links to poverty/welfare traps.

In relation to the specific issue of CEO pay, I am aware of the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s report Because We’re Worth It The Truth about CEO Pay in Ireland.

In general, executive remuneration is a private contractual matter between a company’s board of directors and the CEO.  As such it would not fall within the remit of the Low Pay Commission and I have no plans to make any changes in this regard.

The UK Government, in its recent Green Paper on Corporate Governance Reform sets out proposals for the mandatory publishing of pay ratios. The Irish Stock Exchange requires listed Irish companies to conform to the UK Corporate Governance Code and its Irish Corporate Governance annex on a principle of comply or explain.

Additionally, at EU level, a new Shareholder Rights Directive is expected to be adopted shortly. The Directive’s ambition is to ensure greater transparency and encourage greater shareholder involvement in the long term investments of public limited companies. An aspect of this approach is to ensure greater shareholder involvement in determining the pay of the company directors.

Income Inequality

 570. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if she has received a copy of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' report, Because We’re Worth It: The Truth about CEO Pay in Ireland; if so, her views on the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14898/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I am aware of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' report Because We’re Worth It The Truth about CEO Pay in Ireland.

In general, executive remuneration is a private contractual matter between a company’s board of directors and the CEO.

At EU level, a new Shareholder Rights Directive is expected to be adopted shortly. The Directive’s ambition is to ensure greater transparency and encourage greater shareholder involvement in the long term investments of public limited companies. An aspect of this approach is to ensure greater shareholder involvement in determining the pay of the company directors.   

Legislation governing the operation of the Low Pay Commission requires that the Commission, when making a recommendation each year on the appropriate rate of the National Minimum Wage, "shall have regard to changes in income distribution during the relevant period".  The Commission has addressed the question of income distribution in its annual reports.

In 2016, the Commission noted in its report that while pre-tax and transfer distribution of income in Ireland is one of the most unequal in the OECD, our tax and transfer system, on the other hand, is progressive, resulting in a distribution of income post-tax and transfers at around the OECD average. It is interesting to note that wage inequality declined substantially from the level of the mid-1990s to the early 2000s before rising during the Celtic Tiger period.  The recession however saw a reduction in wage inequality which counterbalanced the increase observed during the boom period.  There is some evidence that inequality may be increasing again during the recovery but it is important to exercise caution against drawing strong inferences from only one available year of recovery.

European Fund for Strategic Investments

 571. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the potential investment projects her Department put forward to the Department of Finance task force report for the European Fund for Strategic Investments in each year since it was established. [14923/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The European Fund for Strategic Investments, EFSI, is an EU initiative launched jointly by the European Investment Bank, EIB, Group and the European Commission.

  The initiative is designed to help overcome the  low levels of private investment in key areas such as infrastructure, education, research and innovation, as well as risk finance for small businesses in the European Union by mobilising private financing for strategic investments. The EU contribution of €21 billion to the EFSI is expected to unlock a total investment, public and private, of €315 billion through a multiplier effect.

  In September 2014 the Special Task Force on Investment in the EU was established in response to a request by the EU Economic and Finance Ministers. It was jointly led by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, EIB, and included representatives of all EU Member States. It was mandated to identify concrete actions to boost investment, including a pipeline of potentially viable projects of European relevance to be realised in the short and medium term.  

  In response to a request for submissions from the Task Force, a joint proposal was submitted by agencies operating under the auspices of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The agencies (Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland) put forward a proposal related to the Knowledge and Digital Economy sector, entitled Regional Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions.

  The proposal containing the potential investment projects was a regionally focused enterprise funding package with 3 strands:

  (1) Regional Enterprise (€50m) funding innovation infrastructure and competitive collaboration. The purpose of this funding is to stimulate the enhancement of the local and regional enterprise eco-system by competitively offering to co-finance projects proposed by local/regional alliances.

  (2) Enhance enterprise innovative capacity within the regions (€200m) via four Research, Development & Innovation hubs:

     (i) Southern Region: Manufacturing Competitiveness,

     (ii) Border Region: Smart Grids & Cities,

     (iii) Eastern Region: Digital Platforms, Content and Applications,

     (iv) Midlands Region: Sustainable Food Production & Processing.

  (3) Improve infrastructural supports (€30m) to the regional enterprise base in order to increase employment opportunities & promote economic growth & social inclusion.

Job Losses

 572. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the actions she has taken to protect jobs at a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14924/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Over recent months, since this company began a global assessment of its international operations, the Government, through IDA Ireland, has been intensively engaged with its senior management to try and safeguard their continuing presence in Nenagh. These efforts included highlighting the supports which the State could offer to help secure the future of their operations there. I myself also spoke to senior management two weeks ago. Unfortunately, however, the company could not ultimately be persuaded to maintain its facility in Nenagh.

My Department contacted the Department of Social Protection immediately after the closure announcement was made to ensure that appropriate arrangements would be made in relation to the provision of relevant assistance services to the affected workers.  I have also directed that the remit of an Inter-Agency group that is already in place in Tipperary be extended so that appropriate services are provided to assist the company's employees and to pursue replacement jobs.

I want to emphasise as well that a particular effort will be made to identify and secure new job creation projects in the county to replace the positions that will unfortunately be lost. I have asked the Development Agencies to redouble their efforts in this regard.

Brexit Issues

 573. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor her views on whether the employment forecasts and targets emanating from Enterprise 2025 and referenced in the Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World strategy are outdated, in view of the fact they were predicated on a non-hard Brexit scenario; and if these targets will be reviewed. [14925/17]

 591. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if the employment forecasts and targets emanating from Enterprise 2025 and referenced in the Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World strategy are outdated in view of the fact they were predicated on a non-hard Brexit scenario; and if these targets will be reviewed. [15476/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I propose to take Questions Nos. 573 and 591 together.

As a small open economy, Ireland operates in an environment of continuous and fast-paced change globally – and has done for decades. In today’s increasingly inter-connected world, geopolitical, technological and financial forces that happen elsewhere have implications for Ireland’s economic growth.  Competition to attract FDI has intensified significantly, and all of FDI is hard won.

Enterprise 2025 was published just over a year ago and sets a roadmap for longer term enterprise development. Our vision for Ireland is to be the best place to succeed in business, delivering sustainable employment and higher standards of living for all. Enterprise 2025 sets out actions that focus on building competitive advantage, on ensuring a supportive business environment, and on realising a significant uplift in the performance of enterprises based here in terms of innovation, export potential and productivity, and on attracting further investment.  

Ireland’s new trade and investment strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World, was published in March of this year and reflects, therefore, the current thinking and ambition of the entire range of Government departments and agencies involved in trade-related activities.  The Strategy reflects the importance of protecting and intensifying our well-established markets in the UK and the US while simultaneously diversifying into other global markets.  This is reflected in targets such as:

- 80% of export growth in indigenous enterprises to reach markets outside the UK

- increase exports to the Eurozone by 50%

- at least 60% of growth in food and drink exports to occur in Asia, North America and Africa.

The policies we have put in place ensure we are anticipatory and responsive and build resilience in our enterprise base. The evidence shows that these policies are working.

According to the latest CSO data, there were over 2 million people at work at the end of 2016 and we are well on track to achieve our ambition to have 2.18 million people in employment by 2020. There are almost 209,000 additional people at work since the start of the Action Plan for Jobs Process in 2012. In the twelve months to the end of 2016, an additional 65,100 are at work. The enterprise development agencies recorded another successful year in 2016 in terms of supporting job creation and investment. The unemployment rate is now down to below 7.0%, from over 15.1% in 2012.  Ireland is now ranked 7th overall in the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook – a significant improvement from 24th in 2011.

Notwithstanding the very positive progress that has been made in recent years, I have already secured additional resources to allow us build on the momentum that has been generated.

While I remain confident, therefore, of the continued relevance of Enterprise 2025 in terms of its focus on resilience of the enterprise base, it is nonetheless timely to review its progress and identify any additional actions or changes necessary in light of more recent global challenges. I have asked my officials to report to me later this year.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

 574. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the funding and financial supports that are available for a small business with fewer than ten employees throughout Ireland and especially in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14976/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Local Enterprise Offices, LEOs, are the first-stop-shop for providing advice, guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their business.

  The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to micro-enterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories, that is, Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea), Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up) and Business Development grants for existing businesses that want to expand. Micro-enterprises can also avail of supports to facilitate them to identify and develop new internationalization opportunities.

  It should be noted that the LEOs do not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses.

  Since 2014, the LEOs also disburse direct capital funding in the form of investments to successful young entrepreneur applicants under the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) programme.

  Micro-enterprises can also avail of the Trading Online Voucher (TOV) Scheme from the LEOs. The TOV Scheme offers the opportunity for businesses to develop their website or digital marketing strategy by availing of vouchers of up to €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure.

  Anyone with a viable business proposal can also use the LEO to make an application to Microfinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks.

  Micro and small enterprises can also access information on over 170 different Government supports that are available for Irish based start-ups and small businesses via the Supporting SMEs online tool. The online tool is a cross-governmental initiative to help start-ups and small businesses navigate the range of Government supports available. By answering the eight quick questions in the online tool, micro and small businesses will, in one location, be able to: 

  - Find out which of the over 170 Government business supports from 27 different Government Departments, Agencies and Initiatives are available to them; and

  - Obtain information on the range of Government supports for accessing credit.

  The online tool is an initiative developed under the Action Plan for Jobs and is available at: www.supportingsmes.ie.

  Further information on the services available from the LEOs, including soft supports such as training and mentoring, can be accessed at www.localenterprise.ie.

Job Creation

 575. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the estimated number of jobs projected to be created here, particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim, for the next five year period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14983/17]

 576. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which she plans to distribute jobs throughout the economy on a regional basis to facilitate a balanced growth throughout the country, particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14984/17]

 577. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which she has identified job creation requirements throughout Ireland, particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim, notwithstanding the commitments already in place; the locations in which further enhancement is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14985/17]

 578. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which she has identified the optimum number of jobs likely to be created or in need of creation throughout the regions outside of the greater Dublin area, particularly in Connacht and counties Sligo and Leitrim, in the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14986/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I propose to take Questions Nos. 575 to 578, inclusive, together. 

  The Action Plan for Jobs, one of the government’s chief instruments to support job creation, is a whole of Government, national level initiative aimed at creating the optimum conditions for private sector and export led job creation. The plan does not deal with actions on a county by county basis but does contain a strong focus on developing the regions.

  Its objectives include the creation of an additional 200,000 jobs by 2020, including 135,000 outside of Dublin; reduction of the State unemployment rate to 6%; and at a regional level, having an additional 10% to 15% at work in each region, and closing their unemployment rates to within one percentage point of the State average.

  Action Plan for Jobs 2017 includes a series of collaborative actions aimed at stimulating regional growth, including the progression, monitoring and support of the eight Regional Action Plans for Jobs, which aims to realise the national Action Plan’s regional employment targets.

  The targets for additional jobs to be created in each of the 8 regions covered by the Regional Action Plan initiative launched in Q1 2015 are set out in the following table.  The targets for Connacht are set out in the West region, while counties Sligo and Leitrim are included in the North East/ North West region. By delivering on the full potential of the Plans, the aim is to deliver a total of 246,000 jobs by 2020.

  Achieving these ambitious targets at regional level will require a renewed focus on collaborative efforts to build on regional strengths, assets and areas of competitive advantage to develop the attractive and competitive environments for business to start, grow and succeed on international markets and to attract inward investment. 

RegionPublished Regional APJ targets 2015- 2020[1]
North East/North West28,000
Midland14,000
West25,000
Dublin66,000
Mid-East25,000
Mid-West23,000
South-East25,000
South-West40,000
State Total246,000


  The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is stimulating job creation across the region, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds awarded through Enterprise Ireland, to support regional enterprise projects.

  The North East/North West Plan aims to support the creation of 28,000 jobs across Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth by 2020. Sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism.

  There has been a substantial improvement in the North East and North West regions since the commencement of the National Action Plan for Jobs in 2012, with an additional 23,000 in employment in Q4 2016 compared to Q1 2012. Moreover, there are now almost 6,800 more people in work in the region since the launch of the Regional Action Plan initiative.

  The unemployment rate in the region has fallen from 10.2% in Q1 2015 to 8.0% at present, compared to the national rate of 6.7%.

  IDA, Enterprise Ireland (EI), and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are making a significant contribution to employment in Sligo and Leitrim.

  There are currently 27 multinational companies employing over 2,700 people in counties Sligo and Leitrim.

  EI companies currently support 1,546 and 922 jobs in Sligo and Leitrim respectively. EI job announcements in 2016 in the North West included LotusWorks (50 jobs in Sligo) and VistaMed (200 jobs in Leitrim).

  The Sligo and Leitrim LEOs are fully engaged in supporting the micro-enterprise and small business sectors in their areas to create and sustain jobs. In 2016, the number of jobs that were created by micro-enterprises that had been supported by LEO Sligo and LEO Leitrim were 38 and 44 respectively.

  My Department is providing additional funds through the agencies out to 2020. Together with Enterprise Ireland, I am currently finalising plans for a regional initiative of up to €60m to support collaborative approaches to grow and sustain jobs across the regions, and to encourage each county to reach its full potential.

[1]   With 45,000 jobs created in 2015, this leaves 200,000 to be achieved by end 2020, as per the Programme for Government.

Brexit Issues

 579. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which her Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland can plan for a worst-case scenario in the aftermath of Brexit, with special consideration to the case of the Border region and counties Sligo and Leitrim; if it is possible to make good any such losses by alternative means; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [14987/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Brexit has been on our radar for a number of years and we have been planning accordingly.

In order for me, as Minister with responsibility for supporting business across all sectors, to develop initiatives to support businesses that are impacted by Brexit, I need to fully understand business needs and to understand the various scenarios that may confront us.

In this regard, my officials are currently analysing the outputs from a series of structured engagements with companies of different sizes, across different sectors and across the regions on the impact of currency fluctuations on exposed companies.

The information gathered during the course of this engagement is detailed and informative and when fully analysed will give me a clear indication of the needs of SMEs to help them address the short and more medium and long term challenges of Brexit.

I recently hosted a Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Brexit Stakeholder Engagement Event in Carrick-On-Shannon on 30 January, attended by over two hundred Departmental stakeholders – with significant attendance from the local business community. This provided a valuable opportunity to hear from companies and stakeholders about the impact of Brexit on their businesses.

My Department is also funding a number of research projects to:

- improve our understanding of the impact of different trade and tariff regimes which might be imposed following Brexit;

- provide data on the extent and concentration of cross border trade, including information on this trade by product and firm types and barriers to trade;

- examine the implications for the most exposed enterprise sectors - in terms of trading and economic relationships - of the UK being outside of the European Single Market and Customs Union.

In terms of my Agencies, Enterprise Ireland has been systematically engaging with its 1,500 clients that export to the UK. EI will continue to provide continued supports to its client companies who now directly employ over 201,000 jobs across the country.

IDA Ireland is constantly engaged with clients across its entire portfolio and in the months leading up to the UK referendum it engaged with clients and prospective clients in relation to the potential impact of Brexit.  The IDA has a Team involved in strategic scenario planning, which continues to work on ensuring that the Agency’s strategy is fit for purpose in light of the referendum results in the UK.

The Local Enterprise Offices are a key resource for the micro and small business sector, particularly in the regions. I have obtained an additional Capital allocation of €4m for Local Enterprise Development in 2017, which will be used to implement a series of Brexit-related measures in the LEOs.

IDA, EI, and the LEOs are making a significant contribution to employment in Sligo and Leitrim.

There are currently 27 multinational companies employing over 2,700 people in these counties.

EI companies currently support 1,546 and 922 jobs in Sligo and Leitrim respectively. EI job announcements in 2016 in the North West included LotusWorks (50 jobs in Sligo) and VistaMed (200 jobs in Leitrim).

The Sligo and Leitrim LEOs are fully engaged in supporting the micro-enterprise and small business sectors in their areas to create and sustain jobs. In 2016, the number of jobs that were created by micro-enterprises that had been supported by LEO Sligo and LEO Leitrim were 38 and 44 respectively.

The Regional Action Plans for Jobs initiative is a concrete example of the targeted approach we are undertaking to boost regional employment. While the Regions will benefit from our wider Brexit responses, the implications of the Brexit vote and the challenges and opportunities that the decision poses for specific Regions have been discussed at the meetings of the Implementation Committees for the Regional Action Plan for Jobs that have taken place since the June decision.

The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is stimulating job creation across the region, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds awarded through Enterprise Ireland, to support regional enterprise projects. The Plan aims to support the creation of 28,000 jobs across Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth by 2020. Sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism.

I will continue to visit the regions and meet with stakeholders to ensure that plans are being implemented in every region, including the Border region.

Foreign Direct Investment

 580. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the degree to which she continues to be reassured regarding the protection of jobs arising from foreign direct investment in the country, particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim, notwithstanding European, United States and global political issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14988/17]

 581. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which she can expect to be in a position to continue to attract foreign direct investment in the country, particularly in counties Sligo and Leitrim, notwithstanding the geopolitical situations now arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14989/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I propose to take Questions Nos. 580 and 581 together.

It is important to remember that companies choose to invest in Ireland for many reasons.  Notwithstanding worldwide geopolitical challenges, the European market remains amongst the largest and richest in the world.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) remains a vital contributor to Ireland’s economic development and growth. The role it plays in sustaining employment in Ireland is well-documented, with approximately one out of every five private sector jobs here directly or indirectly resulting from FDI.  Last year saw the highest ever level of employment in IDA Ireland client companies, with 199,877 people now employed in companies supported by the Agency, including 2,703 jobs across 27 IDA Ireland client companies in Sligo and Leitrim. 

The wider strategy for increasing employment in the North West region, which includes Sligo and Leitrim, is the Regional Action Plan for the North East/North West.  This plan aims to support the creation of 28,000 new jobs across Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth by 2020. I am pleased that there has been strong progress made to date towards that objective, with 5,600 more people in employment across the region since the start of 2015.


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