More than 500 new fulltime jobs were created in the Galway Gaeltacht and 250 more were approved, it was revealed this week in the annual report of Údarás na Gaeltachta.
However, the agency has warned that companies in the Gaeltacht region face a challenging time in the months and years ahead, due to the international economic conditions.
Towards year-end, a number of Gaeltacht companies trading in the sterling and dollar areas were under pressure with their margins being eroded by the weak exchange rates. The current credit squeeze is also another constraint that existing companies have to contend with and An tÚdarás has said that it will continue to work with these companies, within the state-aid guidelines, to try to minimise job losses in 2009.
A total of 527 new full-time jobs were created in the Galway Gaeltacht during 2008. When job losses are taken into account, overall employment is up by 159 jobs. This brings the total employed in Údarás na Gaeltachta assisted companies in the county to 2,963 at year end.
A total of 252 jobs was approved for the Galway Gaeltacht with an overall investment of €24 million in 2008. It is anticipated that these jobs will be filled during the next three years in sectors such as modern manufacturing, services, marine, energy, community development, tourism, education and training.
A total of 1,269 new jobs by the agency was created in 2008. Employment in the services and modern manufacturing sectors experienced growth while employment in the traditional manufacturing sectors such as textiles, clothing, and assembly-line operations in addition to construction related businesses experienced a decline.
Údarás feels that overall it is encouraging to see the containment of job losses and the sustaining of jobs target despite the unprecedented change in the national and global economic climate.
During 2008 An tÚdarás continued to progress its policy of developing business premises, enterprise and community centres and necessary infrastructure throughout the Gaeltacht. These include:
— the development of a €1.6m multifunctional services and enterprise centre on the Carna Industrial Estate;
— the refurbishment and expansion of the Ionad Árann visitor centre on Inis Mór involving the total investment of in excess of €1m commenced;
— the expansion of An Spidéal nursing home with assistance from Údarás;
— the opening of Ionad Seirbhísí na nOileán, a services and training centre, at a cost of €2m. Muintearas Teo, a subsidiary of Údarás na Gaeltachta, has its headquarters in this building and provides a wide range of educational and training services throughout the Gaeltacht;
— the development of enterprise/office space by Comharchumann Shailearna Teo with financial assistance from Údarás na Gaeltachta;
— the opening of Proxy Biomedical’s newly renovated manufacturing premises in An Spidéal which currently employs 17 people;
— the approval of a new support package for Comharchumann Sliogéisc Chonamara for the development of oyster and scallop beds off the Connemara Coast;
— the renovation of the old church in An Fháirche as a tourism and heritage centre;
— the provision of a high-speed broadband network to six of NUI Galway’s Gaeltacht centres and business users within the Galway Gaeltacht region.