Creating employment by driving enterprise – Dara Calleary, FF Ard Fhéis, April 27 2013

untitledDelegates, Oireachtas colleagues, Councillors, ladies and gentlemen I want to thank you for your participation and involvement in this morning’s workshop. I want to especially thank Gina Quinn and Tara Buckley for giving up their Saturday to share their expertise and insights with us-I hope you will all agree that they have added significantly to our debate this morning.

I want to thank my colleagues John McGuinness & Senator Mary White for their input today but also on an ongoing basis. They bring practical experience to the table with histories of been job creators themselves in a range of successful businesses.

Creating employment-Our greatest challenge

The greatest failure of this government-and it’s a long list from which we can choose-is its complete inability to tackle the unemployment crisis. The unemployment rate in March 2011 was 14.2%, in March 2013 it was 14%. Much of the change in the live register since then is because of emigration-once again we are exporting our best and brightest to foreign shores. And despite what Ministers Noonan and Perry say, this is not a lifestyle choice for people-they are forced to go-in some cases bringing their families with them-because we cannot provide opportunities for them here.

The government point to the Jobs Action Plan as been their response to the crisis. They trumpet a whole of government approach.

The reality of “A whole of government” approach for this government works like this. The Colleges of Further Education across the country have given thousands of people a second chance in this country. This party and our leader Micheál Martin as Minister for Education revolutionised their role and their funding thereby enabling them to provide courses in areas such as technology, retail, and education, courses that have reskilled people and allowed them take up employment in new sectors.

This government have cut their funding, restricting their ability to offer courses, leading to up to 500 redundancies and depriving people of the chance to reskill and seek employment in areas where there are employment opportunities. Where’s the whole of government approach there? And this approach is one that is repeated across other spheres-so the reality of the Jobs Action plan is that it’s all plan and no action.

The country needs to mobilise to tackle our employment problem. It requires the kind political focus and political commitment that this party gave to the peace process in the mid to late nineties. Creating employment is the kind of political and societal challenge in 2013 that bringing peace to our island was in 1993. What we don’t have in 2013 is somebody like Albert Reynolds who mobilised the full forces of government behind that challenge-Albert took action too-that’s what we need today to assist the 426,000 people seeking full time employment.

We need to tear down the silos of government that prevent a proper and co-ordinated response to our employment crisis. A real Department of Jobs would deal with all job related issues, not have them shared between three different departments as is currently the case. The Minister for Jobs should do what it says on the tin-be the Minister for jobs! At the moment, the response to our unemployment crisis is shared between the Departments run by Richard Bruton, Ruarai Quinn and Joan Burton-there is little effective co-ordination or co-operation between them and meanwhile our unemployed will remain unemployed. In the coming weeks we will be publishing proposals to reforming this situation-somebody in this government must be made accountable.

Abandoning Entrepreneurs-tackling legacy debt

Entrepreneurs create jobs. It doesn’t just happen. Mary White and John McGuiness have walked the walk as have many tens of thousands around this country. We need to encourage more people to do this and make the journey as easy as is possible.

However at the moment Entrepreneurs are been abandoned by this government and by our banks. Tara (Buckley) has outlined some of the current banking conditions that will force many out of business. These new charges are an attack on job creators. Banks need to realise that retailers are not ATM machines who they can take money from when they want it, banks need to remember who their customers are and frankly who paid to bail them out.

I want to focus on another serious issue concerning our bankers and entrepreneurs-the issue of legacy debt. There are many businesses who took out loans to make investments in their business, to create jobs and opportunity, to transform parts of the country that had been abandoned and that now because of the economic situations cannot pay portions of those loans. Their core business still remains viable but these legacy loans are been called in, in some cases at short notice, and pulling down that viable business and its jobs with it. There are some high profile cases but the reality is that this is happening in every part of this country and we have to shout stop because is we don’t we risk losing a generation of entrepreneurs in this country.

In the same way that spilt mortgages are needed for homeowners, business people need the opportunity to separate legacy debt from their viable core business. I’m not advocating supporting those who walk away and abandon their debt responsibilities –on the contrary I want them to be given the chance to pay these loans by allowing their business to remain, to hopefully grow and eventually pay their debts. A dead business cannot pay its debts.

Delegates, 426,000 unemployed people were cynically exploited by the government parties at the last election and have been every day since. Our enterprise and job creation polices which we will outline over the coming months will be realistic but ambitious. Our debate today will feed in to them and I look forward to working with all of you in the next 12 months.



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