Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey last night outlined several issues facing the Mid-West in relation to unemployment and called on government to take decisive action.

During his Dáil Éireann speech, Deputy Carey highlighted the damage done by the €10 travel tax, the specific issues of unemployment in the Mid-West including the non-implementation of the Taskforce Report, the need for the Lynx Cargo Facility and the folly of twinning an extension of Limerick’s border into Clare with the economic development of that city.

Calling the €10 travel tax “the single most negative issue in relation to Irish Tourism”, Deputy Carey also outlined an issue in relation to a shuttle bus service from Shannon Airport and the withdrawal of the same service for administration reasons, with the resulting loss of jobs.

He outlined the plight of local business owners who are losing business and letting staff go because of the reduced Ryanair operation at the airport.

Deputy Carey again called on government to release funding in order expedite the Lynx Cargo facility at Shannon Airport.

He challenged the government directly to communicate what was happening with the Mid West Taskforce Report. This report has been shelved and all the recommendations contained within it are gathering dust.

Finally, Deputy Carey highlighted the Clare/ Limerick boundary issue and stated on the record of the Dáil his opposition to a change in the current county borders. He took apart the notion that Limerick’s economic success lay in extending its boundary into Clare.
He called on the goverbnment to take their hands off the Banner’s boundary.

A copy of the Dáil Speech is below:


PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS Speech September 29th, 2010

I want to commend our party Spokesperson, Deputy Richard Bruton on tabling this motion this evening. It is broad in nature but gets to the core issue, in that, there is a very strong sense, that we have not seen this type of political indifference, to the plight of our economy, since Nero began taking violin lessons in ancient Rome.

— scrapping the travel tax and reducing airport charges as part of a deal with the airline

One of our most significant industries and one that is heralded as offering potential growth for the future – is Tourism. Levelling increased Airport charges on passengers will not help kick start the tourist industry or indeed, help sustain, never mind increase passenger numbers, in such a difficult economic environment. It is difficult to marry the practise of fleecing potential tourists to Ireland with this week’s announcement of 15,000 new jobs in the sector by 2015. I personally suspect that this announcement will be something like the €53Mn Economic & Tourism Plan long promised for Shannon Airport, very elusive.

The imposition of the €10 Travel Tax has been the single most negative issue in relation to Irish Tourism. At this stage the disastrous Travel Tax seems to stand as a vanity principle for the Government, while all the evidence about its existence, points to the damage it has done and will apparently continue to do into the future. We can acutely see the impact these policies are having at Shannon Airport with the row back in service provision by operators such as Ryanair with passenger trun-put declining from 1.9million to a projected 400,000.

Like many members of this House, I have been approached by business people who have been put under extreme pressure both by economic circumstances and in many cases by the machinery of the State itself. One in particular stands out. It involved the provision of a shuttle bus service from Shannon Airport. On awarding the contract, the company was advised to purchase specific type buses at a cost of €500,000.   The contract was for three years.  Early into the second year of the contract the service was withdrawn at the Airport without notice. Ultimately 20 out of 40 staff of this company lost their jobs with the €500000 investment lying idle and still having to be paid for. Subsequent to this the business applied for employment grant aid from Shannon Development in order to protect jobs. They were told their application was outside the “closing date”.

This beggars belief, that we can have “closing dates” for something so important. To me it smacks of tokenism and bland gesture. Companies such as these have provided sustainable income for the State through PAYE, PRSI and Excise Duty and now there is no incentive or support available for them to trade in the most difficult of circumstances.

I know of another restaurant business in Ennis where 20% of their clientele and turnover has simply disappeared due to the decline in services provided by Ryanair. There is no doubt but that the Travel Tax and increased Charges is a classic example of diminishing return for the State. The Tax should be immediately scrapped and Charges frozen.

— the number of people on the live register has more than doubled bringing the total number on the live register to a record 466,923;

The fact that numbers on the Live Register have more than doubled over the last two years speaks for itself. There is a particular phenomenon taking place here when you drill down into the figures. The most depressing aspect is the significant higher changes and rate of unemployment for the Under 25’s compared to the Over 25’s since August 2008. Again breaking down these figures, young men under 25 have taken the biggest hit. We really are creating a lost generation.

Weekend nights around Ireland now involve young people outlining their plans to emigrate to Australia, Canada and the UK. 100000 people have already taken this option. Pithy responses to this haemorrhage about “Travel broadening the mind” remind me of the 1980’s assertion that “the island of Ireland is just too small for all its people”. It is on this issue that the Government should really hang its head in shame.

I have already spoken about Unemployment; I want to now put it in context for the Mid West in general and Co. Clare in particular. The Government is well aware of the Task Force it established under the able chairmanship of Mr. Denis Brosnan. His key message is that we in this region are suffering disproportionately from unemployment. The CSO figures bear this out. Using the changes over the past two years nationally, throughout all the cohorts of age and sex and applying these same changes to Co. Clare makes it undisputable that the rate of change in unemployment is greater than the National figures by on average 5%. Mr. Brosnan felt it necessary earlier this year to fire a shot across the bows of the Government because of their inactivity.

Some simple recommendations in his interim report such as the necessity for the Government to provide €9M in order expedite the Lynx Cargo facility at Shannon Airport remain ignored. A recommendation to Government for a project that could have far reaching implications for the positive development of a new type economy in the Mid West and yet…… inactivity

The first step from government must be to tell us what is happening with the Mid West Taskforce Report. This report has been shelved and all the recommendations contained within it are gathering dust.

— slashing unnecessary red tape for small businesses;

I always find it interesting every time the Consumer Price Index is published. We are still a long way from having to worry about inflation; however this should not inculcate the same sense of complacency we have experienced in relation to the matters we debate tonight.

Every time the CPI is published we see that all those elements that contribute from the private sector have adjusted downward accordingly. Small business and business in general has obviously played its part and reacted quickly, with adjustments passing to the consumer.

Rising costs in sectors where the Government dictates pricing policy such as Health Education, Transport and Energy not alone remain indifferent to the real world but as is the case with electricity are facing an incomprehensible 5% increase this winter. This is evidence that the Government squeeze on and rip-off of families is set to continue.

The Minister for Finance earlier this year, when it was predicted that prices would fall by close to 4 per cent in 2010, said that this would “mitigate” the effects of falling wages and higher taxes. Once again follow the philosophy of letting someone else take care of the problem and in the meantime continue to try and add to the problem

This has become a familiar Modus Operandi for this Government.