Mixed reaction to Connect Ireland presentation

Athlone town councillors have given a mixed welcome to a presentation by Connect Ireland, which offers financial rewards to people who use their connections to attract jobs to Ireland.

The initiative encourages Irish people use their contacts, families, and friends to suggest to Connect Ireland a business that might develop, expand, or invest in Ireland.

If the company creates at least three jobs, and stays for two years, the individual who introduces the company to Connect Ireland can earn at least €1,500 per job created.

“It’s an opportunity to make easy money - you make two calls, we do everything else,” said Mark Graham from the organization set up to “harness the power of the global diaspora” to bring foreign direct investment to Ireland by working on links ordinary people have with foreign companies.

The organization which has the tagline ‘harnessing our diaspora’ is a Government initiative, launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Graham gave examples of a variety of people, who registered with Connect Ireland as a ‘connector’, put Connect Ireland in contact with a foreign company and are in line to make financial rewards of thousands of euro.

The company’s website shows the kinds of connections Irish people living here and abroad are using to try to bring more jobs to Ireland.

These include educational, sporting, family, and work connections here and abroad.

If the company establishes in Ireland and creates a minimum of 30 sustainable jobs within a 12-month period (from the date when the registered connector becomes an approved connector ), the reward increases to €3,000 per job created.

Half the money is paid after 12 months and the remainder paid another year later.

Cllr Mark Cooney said he was “very impressed” with the progress made by the organisation since their presentation to the county council last year.

Cllr Kevin Boxer Moran said that 85,000 people have left Ireland in the last two years and wondered if Connect Ireland had been at the huge seminars in Dublin and Cork where foreign companies showed their wares to attract young Irish people abroad.

“You’re a great salesman, but we’ll judge you in six months on how many jobs you create,” he said.

“It’s not me you should be judging, it’s everyone in this room” said Mr Graham, who added that “It’s up to you to give us the connection to a company that might be expanding.”

“We don’t want to see forced emigration, we want to give people the opportunity to come back,” Mr Graham said.

He added that the more success the initiative has, the more traction it will have to achieve more success.

Mayor Jim Henson said the council will do everything it can to help.

Details about the Government initiative, supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, are at www.connectireland.com

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