Private Members Business – Employment


Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this motion.


I wish to support the counter motion and the intense focus that this Government is placing on supporting job creation through the Action Plan for Jobs.


While I welcome major job announcements made during the tenure of this Government, including 500 jobs in gaming firms EA and Bioware, I believe that it is the Government’s focus on exporting firms and the small and medium business sector that is the real success of policy to date and that this intense focus will remain on these sectors in coming months and years.


In relation to small and medium businesses, I believe this Government has given due recognition to the important issue of local authority rates. I welcome the fact that Minister Hogan has written to Local Authorities asking them to exercise restraint or, where possible, reduce commercial rates for 2013. To date this year, all bar one of the rating authorities have either reduced their rate or kept it the same, resulting in an average decrease from last year to this year of 0.34%, following on from similar decreases of between 0.3 and 0.6 percent in the preceding three years.



Rates remain high and our focus will have to remain on the subject, but we also have to recognise their importance to the local government system. Yet, small businesses are the lifeblood of economies in villages and towns across the country and so our focus must be on doing everything in our power to assist such businesses, particularly given the extremely difficult trading circumstances that currently prevail.


Another item which ties in with the issue of rates is the issue of water charges.  This Government has committed to the introduction of domestic water charges and it is anticipated that the labour-intensive process of installing water meters on 1.35 million domestic properties will sustain over 1500 jobs for the next two years.  These new jobs will be most welcome for the thousands of former construction workers now seeking employment.  Another welcome aspect of these jobs is that they will be spread throughout the country rather than concentrated in one area.


I note the social inclusion element of the contracts require that Irish Water hires 10 percent of people from SMEs, ten percent from the unemployment register and five percent from the apprentice, graduate or school leaver sector.  These jobs will be much sought after, but will provide opportunities for people from these sectors who often are those most in need of employment.  I particularly welcome the fact that one in every twenty workers will be a school leaver, apprentice or graduate as too often, young people find that they are left with no work opportunities on leaving school.