Dáil debates

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

8:00 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter.

I was very concerned to hear that the company in question has announced it will reduce its workforce during October and November. According to the company, this difficult decision was taken due to the non-viability of the wholesale section of the business.

I am very conscious of the effect these job losses will have on the workers involved, their families and the community in the surrounding area. This is very distressing news for those who will lose their jobs as a result of the announcement. I assure the people concerned that the State agencies will provide every support they can and that the priority will be to find alternative employment for those involved at the earliest possible opportunity.

The role of FÁS, the State training agency, will be particularly important in assisting those who are about to lose their jobs. The agency has already made contact with the company and is awaiting a response from it so a convenient date for a meeting can be agreed. The full range of the agency's services will be made available to the employees concerned if they wish to avail of them. These include training, education and helping people secure alternative employment in other enterprises in the area.

The industrial development agencies will be making every effort to secure alternative investment and employment for Ballina. The national spatial strategy provides a framework for achievement of this goal through the prioritisation of development and investment in the gateway and hub locations. On this basis, IDA Ireland seeks to attract foreign direct investment into the linked hubs of Ballina and Castlebar. The authority is promoting Ballina for new foreign investment as well as working with the existing base of overseas companies in Ballina to encourage them to grow and expand. Since January 2003, there have been five first-time site visits to Ballina. The authority's sectoral emphasis is on attracting new knowledge-intensive projects in the medical technologies, life sciences, information and communications technology and international services sectors.

The authority is also working closely with local groups, utility providers, the local authorities in the county and other agencies to enhance the attractiveness of the county, including Ballina, for new investment. In that regard, the authority has been deeply involved with local partners in the development of regional planning guidelines.

The Deputy mentioned the industrial park and referred to failure. It is important in a debate such as this that we be straight and upfront. One cannot blame IDA Ireland for the logjam in the courts. I understand that a particular legal difficulty, which is extremely unfortunate, is holding up the development of a very important property solution that would facilitate the attraction of inward investment. It is not enough simply and straightforwardly to attack a State agency as if the situation were its fault.


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