FG publishes support plan for mid-west


Fine Gael has proposed a series of measures to support Limerick and the mid-west, following recent blows to the economy from job losses at Dell and other firms.

Party leader Enda Kenny published 13 proposals he said would support the people of the region as they deal with “changing economic fortunes”.

The proposals include the establishment of a new Centre for Energy Innovation, based in Limerick, to build on the region’s expertise in fossil fuel and renewable energy.

The party said the Government must also fulfil its promise to release the committed funding to ensure the Limerick Regeneration Project can commence immediately.

“This is critical in terms of housing, social, health and education as well as job creation potential,” said Mr Kenny.

Fine Gael also suggested the multi-agency taskforce for Limerick and the mid-west must be expanded to include a representative of the IDA, and that it must produce an interim report within three months and a final report within 12 months.

Other proposals include a dedicated and ring-fenced budget to market Shannon Airport. Fine Gael said such a budget should have “two specific and measurable goals” - to promote Shannon as an entry point to regional airports in the United States and to promote new routes into Shannon for an 18-month period.

It also proposed that Shannon Development should undertake a feasibility study into developing the region as a “specialist centre for ancillary financial services for the international transport sector”.

Fine Gael said the focus of the sector should include the shipping and aviation sectors. The feasibility review should be completed by the end of June, the party said.

It also said the Adare bypass project should commence in the short term, with the aim of improving the environment and tourism attractiveness of Adare.

On jobs, Fine Gael said the State training agency Fás should provide structured career counselling for all those affected by the “changed economic scenario”.

This must include skills assessment and aptitude profiling as well as linking individual skills gaps with identification of skills and education opportunities – both part-time and full-time.

Speaking at a meeting with Fine Gael Oireachtas members from the region, Mr Kenny said it had been known that the manufacturing sector has been under severe competitive pressure for some time. He said the Government seemed to have been surprised by Dell’s decision to move jobs from Limerick to Poland.