Thursday, 16 November 2006
Industrial Development Bill 2006: Second Stage
Seán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this piece of legislation, the Industrial Development Bill 2006. I wish to share time with Deputy Nolan, whom I expect in the Chamber shortly.
This is a short piece of legislation dealing specifically with the new mandate recommended by the enterprise strategy group for Shannon Development. It indicated the indigenous industry support functions carried out by Shannon Development under delegated authority from Enterprise Ireland will revert to Enterprise Ireland on 1 January 2007. The reversion of these functions will also involve the transfer of approximately 40 staff from Shannon Development to Enterprise Ireland.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide a legislative framework designed to facilitate the transfer of the individual staff members concerned and provide a statutory guarantee to staff, where so designated, that the pay and service conditions, as well as pension arrangements, will not be diminished by virtue of the transfer. That is very important to staff.
It is important to state that there have been a number of recent developments which have necessitated some of these changes. There has been the establishment of the independent Shannon Airport Authority, an important step which gives a real mandate to the people in the mid west to develop international air transport to an extent not possible before. In the past year, I noted that people from the midlands have gone to Shannon when they wanted to fly to the United States or even Europe and the United Kingdom as it is much easier to get to Shannon from the midlands region than to go through the traffic jam that is involved in getting to Dublin Airport.
The proposed relocation of the headquarters of Enterprise Ireland to Shannon as part of the Government's decentralisation programme, the transfer of responsibility for Shannon town from Shannon Development to Clare County Council and the abolition of the licensing requirement for companies setting up in the Shannon free zone form the background for this legislation.
This Second Stage debate provides me with an excellent opportunity to speak on the subject of industrial development and to refer to matters that flow from this legislation. This Bill will affect the Offaly part of my constituency of Laoighis-Offaly which used to be under the aegis of Shannon Development, even though it is a little removed from the area. The number of employees of foreign-owned multinational companies is at approximately 200,000 people out of a workforce of approximately 2 million, amounting to 9% or 10% of the total workforce. This is a vital form of employment provided by companies with an international perspective which help Ireland's promotion on the international stage. Ireland has been very successful in attracting foreign investment due to the good work of agencies such as IDA Ireland, the Minister and the Department.
The statistics show that Irish people will invest more funds abroad than foreign companies are investing in Ireland. This is attributed to the fact that Ireland is a mature economy. For many years Ireland was the beneficiary of money from the European Union but now that we have made a good fist of managing our own resources we are strong enough to be less dependent on people coming to help us out. Ireland's open market economy attracts foreign investment but there is an equal number of Irish people investing abroad.