Grealish tells Dáil work permit restrictions crippling Galway businesses

Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish has called in the Dáil for the simplification of the work permit system that allows workers from countries outside the EU to fill job roles in Galway and the rest of Ireland, in areas where there is a crippling shortage.

Addressing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions, he said that a difficulty in trying to recruit staff was a concern common to businesses he had met across a range of sectors in Galway, from developers to healthcare providers, over the past few weeks.

“A lot of businesses, in particular those in the hospitality sector, which includes small restaurants and coffee shops, are very worried about their future and the viability of their business. A significant number have told me that they cannot operate at full capacity as they do not have the required number of staff to do so.

“The issues they raised are the restrictions in employment permits and accommodation for their workers,” said Deputy Grealish, adding that people applying for jobs were now asking potential employers if they could secure accommodation for them, but most of them were not in a position to do that.

He said he had met a number of contractors who cannot get qualified staff such as blocklayers, plasterers and carpenters, which was having a huge knock-on effect on the housing supply.

In response to a recent parliamentary question he had tabled to the Minister for Health, he was informed of over 800 job vacancies in Galway’s main public hospitals, including more than 170 nursing and medical professionals. A recent survey by the Manpower Group showed that four in five Irish companies were struggling to attract talent as Ireland endures its worst skills shortage for 17 years.

“These staff and skills shortages are across all sectors of society, not just the ones I have referenced today. This has a knock-on effect on many parts of our society, for example by limiting economic growth, causing delays in dealing with our housing crisis and increasing waiting lists in our health service.

“There is a major problem in the work permit system. It needs to be simplified to enable qualified people from abroad to apply for work permits and fill the much-needed positions in all sectors of our society as quickly as possible.”

The Galway TD also raised with the Taoiseach the length of time it takes to get planning permission, with developers who wanted to build houses telling him that it can take up to three or four years to get permission.

He urged that a time limit be set for An Bord Pleanála to make a decision on large-scale housing developments. Pointing out that local authorities had to make a decision on a planning application within eight weeks of it being lodged, he said this would speed up the delivery of housing.


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