PMB – SME Sector

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

Dáil Éireann, 22 April 2015
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Thank you for the opportunity to speak in relation to this motion.

I note that the Action Plan for Jobs has proved successful to date and welcome the fact that 16 Government Departments and 60 state agencies are taking part in 382 actions this year alone to support job creation.

SMEs are at the heart of business life in Ireland and we must constantly strive to ensure that SMEs are freed from needless red tape and that business life for small businesses is made as easy as possible. In particular, I believe that a complete re-think is needed in terms of paid parking in our towns and villages. I believe that visitors or shoppers in a town should be encouraged to stay as long as possible and paid parking is stopping people from spending time in town and resulting in less footfall for hard-pressed rate paying businesses.

I welcome the focus on the regions and the competitive funding initiatives that are aimed at encouraging stakeholders in each region to co-operate to develop projects to support enterprise and job-creation.

Innovation is going to be key in terms of staying ahead of the competitors in a 21st century global business environment. I note the focus on innovation and the plans to establish a National Health Innovation Hub in 2015.

We should also look at the possibility of establishing a national gaming innovation hub in Galway county, given the number of gaming companies already located in the region. Collaboration with local universities and investment in research would be cornerstones of any such action. I also believe that Ireland should establish a vision systems hub given the explosion in terms of vision technology and the opportunities this presents.

In terms of agri-food, it is time to invest much more significant sums in developing Protected Geographical Indications or PGIs for various indigenous Irish foods and just as the Waterford Blaa has become identified with that area, I believe that we should look at extending the nature and range of foods with such a designation.

Education, start-up support and a healthy economic environment are all crucial to the success of the SME sector. Innovation across every level is crucial, not just for the self-starting individual but also for this Government in terms of new thinking and new approaches to supporting the SME sector.