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Saturday, July 10, 2010

We need a jobs plan now

Last week the Government were quick to announce the end of the recession. In a game of smoke and mirrors the Government presented figures which suited their argument and ignored those which did not. Gross National Product was marginally up but crucially Gross Domestic Product was down. GDP focuses on Irish domestic economic activity which is still on a downward spiral. An OCED report last week provided an important backdrop to the real problem in the economy – 445,000 people are out of work. The report reinforced the need for the Government to bring forward a job creation strategy.

This state has lost 100,000 jobs a year or 2,000 jobs a week since this Fianna Fáil/Green coalition took office. The reality is that the nature of any modest economic recovery will be so weak that it is unlikely to absorb the growth in unemployment caused by the recession. The jobs crisis cannot be wished away.

There is understandable public anger at the antics of the Government. Last week the Government voted to take a three month holiday from the Dáil. I think that the 14,500 people in Waterford out of work will find this outrageous. I think the many businesses in Waterford who are struggling to stay afloat will be livid. It is yet another example of establishment politicians living in a different world from the rest of us.

Last week Sinn Féin held a demonstration in Dungravan, Co. Waterford demanding Government action on jobs. I spoke to an auctioneer who talked about businesses closing and the lack of effort and support from Government needed to save jobs. I spoke to a local restaurant owner who has let half his staff go and whose business is facing imminent closure. I spoke to countless people who are unemployed and who see no hope for the future.

The tragedy is that there are solutions and there are ideas. I have published comprehensive job creation proposals for Waterford. Sinn Féin has published comprehensive proposals nationally. In this difficult time we need to support entrepreneurs and encourage and enable new business start-ups. We need to be clear about where the jobs of tomorrow are and how we create them. We need the statutory authorities working together in a joined up way. There are tremendous opportunities in the areas of tourism, green technology, IT and digital sector and in the area of agri-business.

Young people especially must have a future in Waterford. Young people have a central role to play in changing Waterford and achieving political, social and economic change. Entrepreneurs need to be given the supports they need to create the jobs of tomorrow. We have the ability and the talent in Waterford but in many areas we are lacking in action.

Photo courtesy of Dungarvan Observer

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