Special Cabinet meeting devises new measures to deal with jobs crisis

Friday 18 January 2013 12.53
Before Christmas, ministers were asked to come up with proposals from their departments on how to improve the climate for job creation
Before Christmas, ministers were asked to come up with proposals from their departments on how to improve the climate for job creation

A Government spokesman has said a number of additional measures to help job creation were agreed at this afternoon's special Cabinet meeting on jobs.

The measures will be announced in the Action Plan for Jobs for 2013, which is to be published next month.

The spokesman said that there had been a wide-ranging discussion on job creation.

Memoranda were brought by ministers on progress within their departments and new measures were put forward that might contribute towards increasing employment.

He said a large proportion of the measures in the Action Plan for Jobs for 2012 has been achieved.

The Taoiseach described unemployment as the "deepest hurt" caused by the economic crisis when addressing the European parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

Proposals are expected to include initiatives from local government, NAMA, the National Pension Reserve Fund, and the wider financial sector.

Enda Kenny said the levels of unemployment across the EU and in Ireland were unacceptable.

Speaking at the announcement of 78 new jobs at Tayto Park and Largo Foods, Mr Kenny said the priority is to grow the economy.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said bringing ministers together to discuss job creation might be useful, but he questioned why it had taken the Government nearly two years to do it.

He said the plan sounded like an idea dreamed up during a quiet week to get some positive media coverge.

Fianna Fáil has dismissed this afternoon's special Cabinet meeting as "a scam" that would produce press releases, but not a single extra job.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary said his party had submitted parliamentary questions to each minister in recent weeks to find out what their department had done to comply with the Action Plan on Jobs.

Most of the answers were vague, he said, but the most telling was from Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who said it was a matter for Minister Richard Bruton.

However, Government sources insist the initiative is a real one, comparing it to the Taoiseach's earlier move to reinvigorate the Croke Park Agreement, which has led to the negotiations that are currently under way with unions.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin insisted that job creation is the Government's "top priority", and claimed they have had some success.

Mr Howlin was responding to Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, who pointed to today's survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions showing over 1.5 million people only had €50 per month after essential bills are paid.

She asked how they could pay the new Property Tax out of €12.50 per week, saying it was a "tax too far".

Mr Howlin said the biggest asset most people had was their home, and in most jurisdictions it was taxed.

He said the Government recognised the pressure people were under, but there was no point decrying the economic situation, and the Government was offering a "solution".

Independent TD John Halligan urged the Government to do more to help those in poverty and without jobs. He said many thousands of people spent Christmas with no heating, no TV service and no proper food.

Mr Howlin said the Government had made progress.

He said: "We have a way to go, there is no doubt about that, but we have a strategy."