Seanad debates

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Enterprise Support Services

10:30 am

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I again thank the Senator for raising this, as I know it is dear to her heart. She has a background in business, and she works with businesses. I could see their work in Limerick as well.

I would like to mention that the SME task force, which will be in line with the Senator’s thinking. It was set by the Tánaiste last September. For two months, we met and engaged with more than 40 entrepreneurs and beyond that to focus in on all the issues they want addressed. Similarly, the growth plan that we published last January on the foot of its work provides Government with a set of recommendations directly from the business community of long-term strategic importance for SMEs and entrepreneurs which we are currently pursuing through an implementation group that was jointly chaired by myself and the Minister of State, Deputy Robert Troy, on behalf of the Tánaiste, which is currently taking forward the growth plan recommendations. In that space, there is exactly what Senator Maria Byrne is saying, that is, to make sure that there is seamless transition between our agencies for supports.

I indicated earlier that a number of priority recommendations from that task force are being examined which have the most potential to make a positive impact on the SME sector over the coming year. One of these is to ensure that there is a comprehensive and joined-up range of enterprise responses for all SMEs by the State, public bodies and our enterprise agencies. As part of the development of the new Enterprise Ireland strategy, which is currently under way and due soon, we are also examining how best to sustain that broadening of assistance to ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses, like those in Limerick, with the potential to scale and grow both on domestic market and internationally.

The issue is in identifying any market failures in respect of potential gaps in Government assistance to help the business sectors of our economy which have the potential to grow and create employment, whether exporting or not while avoiding any economic displacement and deadweight issues and keeping to the rules on state aid.

Ensuring an appropriate level of resources and capacity will, of course, be a significant determinant in this endeavour. I know it is something the Senator wants us to raise and to achieve and that, in general, the Seanad is supportive of this too. I was in Louth last week with Senator McGahon and we met companies in a similar space and had similar conversations.


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