Coalition's 'acid test' is job creation

Enda Kenny, Richard Bruton and Eamon Gilmore yesterday. photograph: brenda fitzsimons

Enda Kenny, Richard Bruton and Eamon Gilmore yesterday. photograph: brenda fitzsimons

Sat, Feb 2, 2013, 00:00

The Government will “move heaven and earth” to fulfil its pledge to secure 100,000 new jobs by 2016, Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton said at an Action Plan for Jobs update.

Mr Bruton was asked if the Government was on track to reach its target after he said a net growth of less than 12,000 private sector jobs had been achieved in the past year.

“The honest answer is that this is an ambitious target and we’ll have to work very hard to deliver it ... we’ll have to do more in 2013 and beyond ... I think we will move heaven and earth across Government to make this the core challenge.”

Speaking at the launch of a 2012 progress report on the jobs initiative, Mr Bruton said the 2013 plan to be published in the coming weeks would be “more ambitious”.

He said the turnaround in export-oriented sectors had been dramatic, and pointed to other growth areas such as ICT, digital gaming and food.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny conceded the 14.6 per cent unemployment rate remained “unacceptably high” and he was not fully satisfied that 21 of the 270 measures to boost employment due to be implemented in 2012 had not been delivered on time.

Failed economy

He said the jobs plan was supporting “the transition from the old, failed economy based on property, banking and debt to a new, sustainable economy based on exports, innovation and enterprise”.

Turning to the retail sector, Mr Kenny cited constitutional issues as the reason the pre-election promise to tackle upward-only rent reviews could not be fulfilled. He made an appeal to landlords.

“There’s an imperative here that I think landlords recognise themselves is that it’s better to have somebody in a trading position in a facility.”

He described the jobs plan as a “central pillar” of the Government’s strategy for economic recovery. He acknowledged that Ireland had “a long path to travel” before it emerged from the unemployment crisis.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said there was evidence of a “turn” in employment creation, but said the Government was still engaged in a “struggle” to get people back to work.

He said it was generally accepted internationally that Ireland was a good country in which to invest. The Government’s main priority remained encouraging job creation. That would be the “acid test” of the Coalition’s economic strategy.

He said the jobs plan put in place a clear framework to support and grow indigenous business and build on Ireland’s success in attracting foreign direct investment. “We must continue to concentrate our efforts on creating the best environment for job creation and equipping those who have lost their jobs to return to employment. It remains our top priority.”

People emigrating

Sinn Féin’s jobs spokesman Peadar Tóibín described the report as “heavy on spin and light on jobs”. He said since the plan was launched 20,000 jobs had been lost, with more than 87,000 people emigrating last year.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on jobs, Dara Calleary, said the live register figures had remained virtually the same, “while any slight increase in the unemployment rate is offset by the thousands that are forced to go abroad for work”.