In the three-year period from 2006 to 2009 seven prospective investors have visited Mayo as a result of IDA representation while just one company has made a return visit in that same period. Deputy John O’Mahony has also learned that the potential investors represented the medical technologies, ICT, International Service and the pharmaceutical sector. To date, no investment has resulted from these visits.
“I accept that the climate for job creation has changed but just one return visit in three years and seven visits in total is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the IDA’s role in creating jobs in Mayo. The figures do make you wonder about the seriousness which the IDA attach to attracting industry to this part of the country. I know they say all the right things insofar as ultimately a decision to invest in Mayo is solely down to the client, but surely more pressure can be applied and it’s simply not good enough for the IDA not to attract one single investor from the seven visits to the county in three years,” said Dep O’Mahony.
He said the need for more employment opportunities in Mayo is now greater than ever with nearly 5,000 more people now on the Live Register than at the same time last year.
When he questioned the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Mary Coughlan last week, she outlined to him the measures being taken by the Government to deal with the unprecedented rise in unemployment in the county. The national training and employment authority FÁS is providing a range of supports through its offices in Ballina and Castlebar to assist the unemployed secure employment as soon as possible. These supports include jobsearch, specific skills training for the unemployed, and access to work experience. In the Ballina Training Centre a wide range of evening course programmes is available to help the unemployed and those in employment who wish to up-date their skills or learn new ones. The programme content for this year includes training in such disciplines as welding, roofing, accounts and payroll and safety, health, and welfare at work.
Dep Coughlan further outlined that in addition FÁS is planning to provide a further four full-time and two part-time courses throughout Mayo offering training to an additional 250 people before mid 2009. The Enterprise Development Agencies, Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, are committed to facilitating job opportunities in Mayo. Enterprise Ireland activity is focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new high potential start-up companies, the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies, and in enhancing the innovation capability of Ireland. Enterprise Ireland works with 129 client companies in Mayo, with an associated employment of 3,016. From 2007 to date Enterprise Ireland has approved funding support of over €11.6m to companies in Mayo.
Dep O’Mahony said the roles being played by the various agencies are admirable and he paid tribute for their efforts in getting people back to work. “They have an unenviable task but I believe that with proper backing from the Government we can get more people back to work here in Mayo,” he said.