Dáil debates

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Ceisteanna — Questions

Unemployment Levels.

11:00 am

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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Question 3: To ask the Taoiseach if he will confirm from the Central Statistics Office the latest available unemployment figures for Tallaght, Dublin 24. [30512/06]

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Minister of State (Government Chief Whip), Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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The exact information requested by the Deputy is not available. Statistics on employment and unemployment are compiled at a regional level from the quarterly national household survey. There are eight regions in the State — Border, midland, west, Dublin, mid-east, mid-west, south east and south west. Sub-regional statistics of the type requested by the Deputy are not available from the quarterly national household survey. However, the live register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit. It also details the other registrants who are registered with the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Figures are published for each county and each local social welfare office. The most recent information that is available, which is for August 2006, indicates that 3,782 persons are on the live register in the Tallaght office. The monthly live register figures for the Tallaght office from 2005 are set out in the following table:

Live Register total Tallaght Local Office
Persons
Year
Month20052006
January3,2143,503
February3,1843,458
March3,2733,484
April3,2793,436
May3,3213,374
June3,4563,618
July3,6493,733
August3,5583,782
September3,291
October3,146
November3,176
December3,302
Average3,321
Source: Live Register Series, Central Statistics Office.

It should be noted that the live register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers and seasonal and casual workers who are entitled to unemployment assistance or benefit. Statistics on unemployment are measured at regional level by the quarterly national household survey. The exact area covered by each local office is not limited to the immediate locality of the particular office. For example, people from the Blessington area may be registered in the Tallaght local office.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I am delighted to have an opportunity to say a few words on this issue. My question is sandwiched between two questions from my Green Party friend, Deputy Sargent. I am sure someone will come up with a slogan about that. I am interested that the clár describes Tallaght as being in Dublin 4. I am not sure how the people of Tallaght will react to that.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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It is social engineering.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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Maybe The Echo, which is based in Tallaght, will react to that description. I know it monitors these occasions.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Deputy will get lots of coverage.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I look forward to hearing what my neighbour, Deputy Crowe, has to say about the matter. I would like to comment on this serious issue. I am interested in examining the unemployment figures for the Tallaght region because this month is an opportune time to do so.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have anything in the nature of a question?

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I am getting to it.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Echo is listening.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Chair should not be a spoilsport.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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As the Ceann Comhairle is aware, I am not as experienced as Deputy Sargent and others in this regard.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy is not as shy either.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I am trying to follow Deputy Sargent's example.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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I have asked twice as many questions as Deputy O'Connor.

Photo of Charlie O'ConnorCharlie O'Connor (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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I ask the Ceann Comhairle to give me half a second to do a preamble and then I will get to my questions. I might also give the Minister of State some advice. It is opportune to raise this issue at this time because the 16th anniversary of the opening of The Square shopping centre in Tallaght falls on 23 October next. Those of us who live and work in Tallaght know, as the Ceann Comhairle does as a result of his many visits to the area, that everything that is happening in Tallaght today started on 23 October 1990. Tallaght is now a superb city with many employment opportunities and all the facilities one would expect in a major urban area.

We need to meet the job creation needs of Tallaght, which is the third largest centre of population in this country and has a very young population. I would be grateful if the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, could convey the information he has given to me this morning, which will be of great interest to the people of Tallaght, to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It is important for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to understand that Tallaght continues to face many job creation challenges. I hope the Minister of State will help me in that regard.

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Minister of State (Government Chief Whip), Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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I am happy to assist the Deputy, who is famous for promoting the interests of Tallaght. We all admire him for that. It is clear that the employment news is good. I have mentioned the results of the quarterly national household survey and the state of the live register. Over 2 million people were in employment in this State in the second quarter of this year. That figure comprises Irish people and the many immigrants who have come to these shores. We warmly embrace the new, modern and multicultural Ireland that is developing. I will convey Deputy O'Connor's wishes for future investment in Tallaght to my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Martin.

Reference has been made to the size of many of the new towns which are developing in the greater Dublin area. Deputy Sargent spoke earlier about some of the towns in Fingal. Deputy O'Connor has always promoted the needs of Tallaght as a major town. I will convey that message to the Minister.

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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Does the Minister of State accept that the monthly decrease in the rate of unemployment can be attributed to seasonal factors? The underlying trend is that there has been almost no change in the live register. While the relevant unemployment figures for Tallaght and Ballyfermot fell in the month referred to by the Minister of State, the number of people on the live register is higher than it was for the same month in 2005. Is it not clear to the Minister of State that economic growth is bypassing some key neighbourhoods in the Tallaght area?

Tallaght should be an economic hub because it is so close to transport centres, such as major roads. Over the last year, traditional industries have decided to move to cheaper locations, unfortunately. We have seen an increase in the number of people receiving unemployment payments. I ask the Minister of State to explain why so many people in the Tallaght area are unemployed. Specific strategies are normally introduced in economic areas where there have been significant job losses, like those which have been experienced in Tallaght over the last year. We have not seen the various agencies coming together in the Tallaght area, however.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question?

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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Why have we not seen a response from the various agencies? Can the Minister of State confirm that 888 people under the age of 25 are on the live register in the Tallaght area? I have been told that 888 is supposed to be a lucky number in China, but I do not think it is a lucky number for the young people in the Tallaght area who are stuck on——

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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There are 8,000 bicycles in Beijing.

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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That may be so, but we are talking about young people who are unemployed.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Kerry South, Fianna Fail)
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I think the correct figure is 9 million.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Is it 9 million?

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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Perhaps people in China can get on their bikes to look for employment.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Kerry South, Fianna Fail)
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Maybe the Deputy should get on his bike.

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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I do not think those bikes are available in the Tallaght area. It is clear that the increase in unemployment is a growing worry for people in the Tallaght area. Many young people in the area are in low-paid employment in shopping malls etc. Many of them have short-term work in the construction industry. Is there a strategy in this regard? It is different from the rest of the country as shown in recent trends. What will the Government do in this area where the figures seem to be growing?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Crowe's question may be more appropriate to another Minister.

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Minister of State (Government Chief Whip), Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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I acknowledge that seasonal issues affect the live register. It decreased from 158,200 in August to 155,300 in September which may reflect students returning to college and so on.

I have come to know Tallaght fairly well over the years as a member of the local authority and have seen, working with colleagues from my party, tremendous advances made there. Infrastructural projects such as Luas have provided linkage with the rest of the city. The retail and construction sectors have grown and companies like Jacob's are important in the area. We all know how Tallaght has changed positively over the years and the responsibility to ensure this pace of development continues rests with us all. There are huge links between educational opportunities and employment which should be remembered where there are pockets of need. I will not give a long answer to this because it applies more appropriately to some of my colleagues in Government.

Tallaght will always remain a priority here primarily because there are some representatives who never cease to discuss it. Deputy Crowe's point is well made and will be considered.

Photo of   John Curran John Curran (Dublin Mid West, Fianna Fail)
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I do not represent Tallaght, but I represent an adjoining area and the impact of employment issues there has become significant as Tallaght represents such a dominant area for South Dublin County Council. The Square shopping centre, the hospital, the college and so on are important factors in the area. Employment opportunities in Tallaght affect a wide area but my question is more general, although it has an impact on such matters.

Various sources, including the Economic and Social Research Institute, have sounded a note of caution regarding the opening of the Irish labour market to citizens of the new EU accession countries, Bulgaria and Romania. What is the Government's view on this?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not sure how relevant this question is.

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Minister of State (Government Chief Whip), Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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We are happy that Bulgaria and Romania will join the EU on 1 January 2007. Many of my colleagues, including the Taoiseach, have been cautious on the issue of labour market access and the Government will make its decision on this before the end of the year, after consulting with the social partners. I note the cautious comments made by the ESRI. The Taoiseach and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment have suggested that Ireland may seek to adopt a different approach and introduce a work permit scheme for workers from Bulgaria and Romania, although such a decision will not be made until December. I accept the Deputy's points. We have a booming economy, we warmly welcome workers from accession countries but the Government will be cautious regarding Bulgaria and Romania.