On behalf of those on this side of the House, I would like to wish the serving member of An Garda Síochána who was injured in the line of duty last night a very speedy recovery and good health.
I wish to raise with the Tánaiste an issue of job creation and inward investment. It is an issue we have raised previously in the House and it has been discussed at the Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Committee of Public Accounts. The Tánaiste will be aware the Succeed in Ireland initiative was a concept which flowed from the Global Economic Forum, the think tank that developed after the economic crash. The concept was to connect with and harness the Irish diaspora right around the world, with a view to creating inward investment and job creation in Ireland. One thing that flowed from that was a contract which was being managed by the IDA and contracted out to a contractor known as ConnectIreland. Interestingly, as the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, and the former Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, will know, the cost of every job created under this scheme was in region of €4,000 whereas the cost of an IDA job is in the region of €10,000. That contract ran out in 2017. Prior to that, there was notification of a tender process which was then rowed back on. Since March 2017, which is almost eight and a half months ago, we have been promised a review of that initiative. It is important to note that the Succeed in Ireland initiative brought into this country 95 new-name start-up enterprises, equating to in excess of 2,500 jobs. To be fair, the IDA will dispute the level of jobs but there is a verification process in regard to that.
Last week, in the absence of a Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and while the Taoiseach was acting in that capacity, ConnectIreland, which was the contractor and which is in dispute in this regard, wrote to the Taoiseach, Deputy Leo Varadkar, and pointed out a number of issues in regard to it. The correspondence states:
In the course of our attempts to vindicate those diaspora, we have uncovered the most egregious, systematic and deliberate misconduct by the IDA in pursuit of its own self-interest, conduct that has laid waste to potentially thousands of new jobs and billions of euro of investment in Ireland. Despite our efforts to have these issues addressed, nothing has been done. We are constantly deflected by the mantra that our issues are nothing but a contractual dispute over the number of jobs created in the initiative. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we have been trying to expose misconduct which is of public and national importance and goes far beyond our disagreements over job numbers. However, our efforts have been met with a campaign of misinformation, concealment and attempts to silence us, our stakeholders and the diaspora through interferences in the democratic process.
What we have is a disagreement, on the one hand, but, on the other, we have the Succeed in Ireland initiative which has huge merit in terms of linking with our diaspora from around the country, and which has delivered jobs and investment to this country.
Does the Tánaiste agree the Succeed in Ireland initiative has delivered jobs and investment into Ireland, which is of benefit, and that it has done so in a value for money fashion? Does he agree the Succeed in Ireland initiative should continue in some shape or form to deliver and to work in compliment with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland?
Last March, almost eight months ago, we were promised a review. When will it be completed and when can we expect to receive it? We have raised the issue a number of times. Will the Tánaiste note from the correspondence the Taoiseach has been given that the connectors are seeking a formal public investigation into why we have reached this juncture?