Taoiseach gives details of job creation concept on US mission


Job creators may get a €3,000 reward, however Kenny neglected to say how this will be funded, writes LARA MARLOWE,Washington Correspondent, in New York

CAN THE Chinaman in Cork and the mother in Ballinasloe save the Irish economy? Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday used them to explain Ireland’s newest job creation scheme, which will be revealed fully in the Dáil next Tuesday.

The “finder’s fee” concept, which would reward anyone who creates a job in Ireland that lasts for two years or longer, is a way of “harnessing all of the Irish diaspora in a global sense”, Mr Kenny told journalists on the noisy floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Irish and non-Irish, residents and non-residents, may be eligible for remuneration. “It could be a Chinese student in Cork who says, ‘I have an uncle in Beijing who might manufacture here in Ireland’,” Mr Kenny explained. “A mother in Ballinasloe could ring her son or daughter in Vancouver or South America or China and say, ‘Look, why don’t you come back to Ireland. Is there an element of what you’re doing there that can be manufactured in Ireland?’.”

The Irish Times reported yesterday that there would be a reward of €3,000 for each job created, although Mr Kenny did not say how the scheme would be financed.

He said the plan was the brainchild of Terry Clune, the founder of the Taxback Group. “It’s building on what’s already happening in Ireland, where parish after parish are trying to determine where their diaspora are all over the world,” Mr Kenny said.

“For my part, along with Minister Bruton, we’re going to give this backing and have it operated as a pilot scheme along with the IDA,” he added.

The Taoiseach had breakfast at the stock exchange with financiers from AIG, Citibank, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Merck, Prudential – the largest employer in Donegal – and the TIA insurance group.

Together, these firms employ more than 6,000 people in Ireland already.

The Taoiseach said he spoke of the political stability of the new Government, his certainty that Ireland will retain its 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate, the skills of the Irish labour pool and “red tape and what the Government could do to facilitate American investment being consolidated it in Ireland”.

Mr Kenny was to extol the virtues of doing business in Ireland at the American Ireland Fund Gala last night. The dinner, like yesterday’s breakfast, was to be chaired by Duncan Niederauer, the chief executive of the stock exchange, who is one-quarter Irish and three-quarters German. “The Irish quarter wins,” an Irish diplomat said.

The Taoiseach said he would be thrilled to meet “a living legend” at the dinner – former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Ali’s great-grandfather Abe Grady emigrated from Ennis, Co Clare, to Kentucky in the 1860s. “Like many millions of others around the world, I love that man for his athleticism, for his prowess in boxing, for his skills, his dynamism, for his psychology, for the spirit that he brought to the world of professional boxing,” Mr Kenny said.

“He was the idol of hundreds of millions and, as he said himself, the best-known face on the planet.” The Taoiseach gave several interviews to US media. He told Fox Business Network senior bondholders in the “pillar banks, the Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank” will not take a hit, but he could not guarantee the same for Anglo Irish Bank.

“Ireland has no intention of defaulting,” he added.

Mr Kenny told Reuters that once details are finalised for a bailout for Portugal, which has reached a three-year deal with the EU and IMF, Dublin could negotiate “an interest rate reduction which would be significant in Ireland’s case”.

The Taoiseach yesterday sent his best wishes to former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald who is ill in hospital.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Kenny said: “I spoke to Garret a few weeks back in the Shelbourne when he received another doctorate and I’m aware from communications yesterday he is in hospital. I hope that the medical assistance being given to him now will help him come through these difficulties he’s having. I say a prayer for his health and wellbeing.”