Deputy Broughan recently asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Business; Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald to report on the number of staff requests by each State agency under the remit of her department in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and the number of staff subsequently hired in each year in this period.
I also wish the Minister well in her new portfolio. I am sure she will miss the Department of Justice and Equality and the lengthy questions both I and other Deputies used to submit to her. I also wish the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan, well in the portfolio he has retained.
Budget 2018 will be vital. I do not agree with removing any part of the Department and transferring it to another Department. In what appears to be a reflection of the hard right ideology of the new Taoiseach, it appears employment will be moved into the Department of Social Protection. These are different functions and responsibility for employment should be in the same Department as responsibility for jobs. What areas will not be included in the Department’s Estimates this year?
Deputy Broughan recently asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, to report on the continuing serious allegations of illegal pay and conditions for workers in the fishing industry. In a reply to his Parliamentary Question received last week, Deputy Broughan was informed that there 157 contraventions discovered during inspections of fleets by the Inspectorate and Enforcement Division of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The reply states that two-thirds of the fleet “that comes within the aegis of the Atypical Worker Permission Scheme” were inspected by the end of 2016 and the remainder of inspections will be carried out by the summer of this year.
Since the shock Brexit result of last summer, Deputy Broughan has raised Ireland’s ‘readiness’ for the aftermath on many occasions in Dáil Éireann, in particular with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Most recently, Deputy Broughan asked Minister Mitchell O’Connor the number of requests her department had received from either IDA Ireland and or Enterprise Ireland since Brexit for permission to employ additional staff; the number of requests received, the number that were approved, pending or refused; and for a statement on the matter.
President-elect Donald Trump has tweeted on a number of occasions that “Any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the US without retribution or consequence, is wrong!”I note that when the Taoiseach visited Silicon Valley and New York, he met Mayor Bloomberg and representatives of Irish companies and so on.
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The news from the High Court in London this morning, if it is upheld by the Supreme Court, may give the Minister and this House a bit more time to prepare for the enormous challenge of Brexit. I followed the Minister’s earlier response to Deputy Collins and I wonder if the extra €52 million on the capital side, and €3 million on the current side, and the additional 50 posts, are enough across the many agencies the Minister supervises to address this huge challenge, one of the biggest we have faced since 1922.
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.
This question is really about the record of the former Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton. Although Dublin Bay North is close to major infrastructural centres such as Dublin Airport and Dublin Port, its unemployment rates remain quite high. The live register for Coolock for last month showed that 3,668 people were signing on, of which just under 600 were young people under the age of 25. The live register for Kilbarrack showed that 3,712 people were signing on last month, of which 348 were under 25. What steps did the former Minister take, particularly in respect of his own constituency, to boost jobs?
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