Burke is optimistic about jobs, but the Midlands lags behind

Mullingar-based TD, Peter Burke (FG ) says that the Regional Action Plan for Jobs is working, referencing a seven per cent increase in job creation in the last year in Government backed companies. Labour TD Willie Penrose, however, has called on the Government to do more for the Midlands.

Official figures show that at the end of 2017 there were 342 extra people employed nationwide by state supported enterprises compared to the same period in 2016, Deputy Burke said.

“The regional Action Plan for Jobs is an excellent example of government agencies like Enterprise Ireland, local authorities, the Local Enterprise Offices and businesses working together to tackle regional issues,” he commented.

“Contrary to what you will hear from opposition politicians, job creation was evenly spread across the country, with every county seeing job increases,” he continued. “Two thirds of the new jobs created were outside of Dublin.

“We have witnessed in Athlone alone a raft of new companies enter the market and establish themselves. The majority of these companies have been assisted and supported by Enterprise Ireland, and I am confident that this level of support will continue and maintain this high level of growth in the town.”

Despite the growth in state-supported jobs, the Midlands region is still lagging, particularly when it comes to Foreign Direct Investment jobs. Just two per cent of FDI jobs are in the region, which also had the smallest increase in IDA supported jobs in 2017.

Labour TD Willie Penrose drew attention to this discrepancy earlier this week, and called on the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the IDA to redouble efforts to secure jobs for the region.

“The IDA supports over 210,000 jobs in Ireland, but just 4,327 of those are in the Midlands,” Deputy Penrose said. That is equal to two per cent of total jobs. The growth rate in jobs for the Midlands was the lowest in the country at just one per cent, compared to nine per cent in the South East and six per cent in Dublin.”

With Brexit around the corner, Deputy Burke said it is important that the Government continues to bolster the capacity of Ireland’s enterprise agencies. He pledged to engage with the IDA and EI on a regular basis to ensure Westmeath is advertised to its fullest potential.

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