Labour candidate Harry Barrett has said a jobs stimulus plan for Mayo is imperative to avoid sleepwalking into a serious jobs crisis. He has said job creation through a stimulus plan should be put to the top of the political agenda.
Mr Barrett said he is alarmed at the lengthening dole queues and warnings from economists that without remedial actions, more jobs could be lost during 2009.
He has suggested that the stimulus package would be drafted by the Mayo County Council. “This plan must have the input of elected representatives, the Western Development Commission, the county manager, and invited business representatives who express an interest in getting involved.
“When Barrack Obama was recently asked to identify the top three priorities for this new administration he said ‘jobs, jobs, and jobs’. The same priority needs to be attached to the unemployment crisis in this county.
“The facts are that we are not producing anything in Mayo any more in comparison to the industry we had 20 years ago. Farming is on its knees and fishing has been seriously curtailed by the quota system. The last major job announcement made in Mayo was Coca Cola in 1998. We have let construction and the sale of houses act as a cash cow for far too long and now we must look to alternatives very quickly. Over 1,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Castlebar alone in the last 10 years, it is high time to address this situation.”
Mr Barrett said Castlebar and many of the county’s larger towns are now well equipped to deal with production again. “We have the business parks, the educated workforce and the business leaders to drive initiatives. We are also fortunate to be living in a county that is, according to experts, the finest location for wave energy in Europe. Our vast gas resources must also be exploited to the benefit of all and not the vested interests of a few.
“I am now calling on Mayo County Council and the elected members to initiate a local stimulus plan to focus on ways that will attract industry into the county. It should also pressurise Government into releasing monies, not only for new roads, rail, and broadband; but for promised projects like the €2 million promised for the wave energy test site in north Mayo and the long promised Davitt College sports hall.”