Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Report of Seanad Public Consultation Committee: Statements
That is what we have in Ireland - resilience. We need to develop that resilience and empower more of our SMEs and people to take the risk. I have judged a variety of entrepreneurial programmes in Ireland and I have seen hundreds and hundreds of business plans. Companies do not grow; people grow. The environment must be provided to allow people to grow. The work our committee has done, the work I have been doing for years, and the research on which Dr. Giblin and her colleagues have been working is all about ascertaining how we can empower people to grow and develop businesses.
We need to decide on key performance indicators, KPIs, in order to know whether we are doing well or poorly with regard to supports. I mentioned research and development. This is primarily the focus of large companies. Small companies do not do it. That is a fact. Why do they not do it and why do they not access those vouchers? We need to support them in breaking through those barriers.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach mentioned personal guarantees. These are absolutely critical. I echo what he said in that regard.
There is another thing which is very important in respect of productivity. The vouchers are part of it, but another big part is education and our connections with people like Dr. Giblin and others. These connections allow us to build a Venn diagram in which there is an overlap between business, SMEs, the intelligence and ability of academics, and evidence-based research. We are very weak on that. We are much weaker than many other countries, hence our research. I ask the Minister of State to drive Cabinet and to lead in developing that area. I am sure he can do it because I know his passion for it. We have spoken about this area on a number of occasions, albeit briefly.
One of things I am pushing hard is the Perjury and Related Offences Bill 2018. It has gone through all Stages in the Seanad and is now before the Dáil. I have spoken with the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, and he and the Government will support it in the Dáil, as will Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Will the Minister of State proceed with this as soon as possible so that it can go through the Dáil and become law by Christmas, because insurance is a huge issue? Insurance and Brexit are the two big issues we hear about in respect of SMEs. We do not have legislation like the perjury Bill in Ireland, although every other developed country has. There is perjury legislation in Northern Ireland and the UK, but not in Ireland.
Those are my few asks of the Minister of State. Gabhaim buíochas leis. I know he is passionate about this issue. I very much welcome his support and feedback on it. All of my colleagues know entrepreneurship and SMEs, so the Minister of State and I are talking to people who know what this is all about.