Call to prioritise infrastructure to boost jobs
EMPLOYMENT:LABOUR-INTENSIVE projects contained in the National Development Plan should be brought forward to create employment, Marie Bailey (Ballybrack, Dublin) told the conference.
“Although our economy cannot be dependent on construction, there are still valuable projects that need to be completed, such as in broadband and IT, which will reposition Ireland as the most competitive and sustainable economy in Europe,” she said.
Ms Bailey said that at times of crisis, when financial markets failed and private investors were reluctant to take risks, the State must take control.
“That is why our leader, Enda Kenny, has called on the Government to reassess or reprioritise the National Development Plan.
“Weaknesses in our telecommunications, road, rail and electricity networks mean that we will probably lose international business to more developed countries and also decrease the chances of indigenous companies prospering.”
Anthony Lawlor (Naas, Co Kildare) accused the Government of strangling the State’s natural entrepreneurial spirit by failing to provide financial and relevant back-up support to create jobs.
He said a small IT company in Kildare, established about five years ago, announced proposals last November for the creation of 17 new jobs and a €15 million investment in research and development.
“Unfortunately, the CEO may have to move due to the high cost base, not to eastern Europe or to Asia, but, unbelievably, to London,” he added.
The Government, he said, was pumping taxpayers’ money into a flawed banking system which was refusing to engage with the business community.
Eoghan Murphy (Rathmines, Dublin) called for a new approach which would create jobs, save people money, foster investments, and, at the same time, protect the environment.
“That approach centres around green energy and a revolution in the way that we use it,” he said.
“It is not just about decreasing our carbon footprint, although that is important. And it is not just about feeling better about the way we treat the environment, although there is nothing wrong with that.”
The strategy, said Mr Murphy, was about capitalising on new trends and new technologies in the green energy sector and harnessing them to develop an indigenous renewable energy industry here in Ireland.
Joan Maher (Howth, Dublin) said everybody had friends or relatives who had lost their jobs or were threatened with unemployment. “We see the despair and devastation that unemployment is creating all around the country,” she added.
“To stem this tide, it is vitally important that we support businesses and people who have taken the brave decision to go it alone and set up their own enterprise.”
Ms Maher said those were the people on the frontline, fighting back against the recession. Local government should have the power and responsibility to establish a one-stop shop for people interested in starting their own business, or support existing services.
Paul Cagney (Charleville, Co Cork) said the economy had gone from boom to doom in a short time.
“We must make it clear that it is the failed policies of Fianna Fáil which has brought us to this point,” he added.
Fianna Fáil, said Mr Cagney, had believed that people could get rich selling houses to each other. Anybody who had challenged this view was accused of treachery.
Mr Cagney said that there should be no talk of a national government, adding that there should be no bailout of Fianna Fail.
“We need a new, fresh dynamic government, led by Fine Gael,” he said.
Barry Ward (Blackrock, Dublin) said that real and effective regulation could not be measured by the numbers of forms filled in or boxes ticked.
The businesses hurt most by that kind of regulation were small enterprises, he added.
“While big businesses have full departments and full-time staff to deal with regulatory issues, small businesses, employing in Ireland over three-quarters of a million people, are crippled by unnecessary form-filling and meaningless red tape,” he added.