Today in Dáil Éireann, during Priority Oral Questions with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Deputy Tommy Broughan called on the Minister to ensure that Irish jobs are protected, promoted and preserved throughout Brexit preparations and negotiations. While Budget 2017 provided for a 10% increase in capital expenditure for the Department of Jobs and a target to create an additional 40,000-45,000 jobs in 2017 against the most uncertain economic environment in recent years with Brexit, Deputy Broughan questioned whether the extra 50 posts in the Department and its agencies will be sufficient and whether additional funding should be provided to IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland to assist them in their mammoth tasks ahead.

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are to receive an increase of 22% bringing their allocation to €22.5million), Enterprise Ireland will have an allocation of €185million which is an increase of 15.7%), IDA Ireland at €137million sees an increase of 22% and the Science Foundation Ireland is receiving just a only 3.5% rise. The target of 40,000-45,000 new jobs in 2017 seems ambitious given the current uncertainty around the future of our economic relationship with the UK. In 2015, 44,100 net new jobs were created and construction continued to be the fastest growing sector up 8.5% compared to 2014. The aim for 2016 was to add 50,000 jobs to the Irish economy but progress reports of the Action Plan for Jobs 2016 showed that full-time employment increased by 44,900 up to the end of Q2 of 2016 but did not indicate how many of these were new jobs.

Deputy Broughan says “Brexit has put Ireland in a unique and precarious position with unknown risks but also, perhaps, as yet unexplored opportunities. It is essential that the agencies of the State have sufficient resources to prepare for and mitigate these risks and also negotiate and exploit potential benefits. Worryingly, InterTradeIreland’s Q2 Business Monitor Report, showed starkly how unprepared Irish and Northern Irish businesses were for the Brexit result. A survey conducted showed that 97% and 96% of business in the Republic and the North respectively had no plans in place for the ‘leave’ side’s unexpected victory. Without knowing when Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 and what format ‘Brexit’ will take, it is imperative that businesses south and north of the border are prepared.”

Deputy Broughan also repeated his call for a Brexit Minister to co-ordinate the government’s preparations for and response to Brexit.