Private Members' Business. - Neglect of South West Region: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by Deputy Martin on Wednesday, 7 May 1997:
"That Dáil Éireann condemns the Government for its neglect of Cork City and the South-West, for its failure to ensure balanced economic development, to provide sufficient educational resources to tackle high unemployment, and to implement all aspects of the Land Use Transportation Study."
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:
"Dáil Éireann commends the Government for the implementation of policies which have supported significantly improved economic and social progress in Cork City and the South-West, and supports the continued development of these policies to meet the needs of the city and the region.".
—(Minister for Enterprise and Employment).

I am delighted to have an opportunity to support this motion.

As Minister for the Environment between 1992 and 1994 I had a brief opportunity to take a number of measures aimed at supporting the development, enhancement and improvement of the economic circumstances in Cork city and surrounding areas. It was the Fianna Fáil-led Government, in coalition with the Labour Party, that progressed funds for the Lee Tunnel. It was the Fianna Fáil-led Government that decided to make the necessary improvements at Blackpool. The congestion and problems in that part of the city were acute. However, that project has progressed very little since we left office. A flats complex in that area, in which drug addiction and crime is rampant, is causing enormous problems for the local community. When we were in office the local authorities, with the agreement of the Department of the Environment, were making arrangements to demolish those flats and rehouse the applicants throughout the northside of the city. It is regrettable that project has been shelved.

Even though environmental problems in Cork city had not escalated to the point of breaking EU legislation on smog levels, the then Government banned the use of bituminous coal in the city. Reports since then indicate that the people of Cork welcome the improvement in air quality in the city.

The main context of this motion is the development of the educational facilities, primarily the enhancement and due recognition of the regional technical college in Cork. It is regrettable that as we come close to a general election we see different treatment in different parts of the country depending on whether there is pressure on a particular seat. Decisions about educational facilities, the universities, technical institutes and regional technical colleges should always be based on strict national criteria and whoever jumps the fence or produces the goods receives the lolly. It should not be a question of political aggrandisement. Education and training can never be allowed to be developed in that piecemeal and political fashion.

As spokesman for the marine and defence I have visited the regional technical college in Cork and met people engaged in research into aspects of the Marine. We have turned our backs on the harvesting of the resources of the sea for long enough, but great work is being done there and initiatives have been taken, even with limited resources, to help any Government to understand better what must be done to harvest those resources, not only in regard to our fisheries and leisure pursuits but also seabed development and other aspects. It is a shame that students and teachers of that college should have to take to the streets of Cork city or Dublin to express their frustration at the Government's selective decisions which were not based on proper criteria.

I am proud to support this motion proposed by Deputy Martin, our spokesman on education. In the past few years he has worked tirelessly to progress Fianna Fáil educational policy. I compliment him, in particular, on the way he has tried to address the question of disadvantage. Whether we are talking about disability, the need for remedial teaching, psychological support services or resource teachers, we all know that for a long time a percentage of our population, whether at primary, secondary or third level, has missed out and in many ways has been alienated from society because the opportunities to develop their talents and their personalities to the fullest extent did not happen owing to the necessary resources not being made available.

In the context of what is contained in this motion, the primary aim is to deal with high unemployment and other problems of which Deputies who serve that part of the south are only too well aware. I hope there will be some positive response from the Government to this genuine motion put forward in the interests of trying to make sure the right thing is done in relation to the regional technical college in Cork.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on the motion but the approach of Fianna Fáil is the clearest case of the ostrich-like, "head in the sand" syndrome I have seen for a long time. One would think from the motion that the Government had failed the people of Cork but the opposite is true. The Government has reversed the neglect and deprivation which the region suffered under the Fianna Fáil-PDs Government. How can those parties draw attention to the region, given their disgraceful record in the area?

I wish to share my time with Deputy Lynch.

I am sure that is satisfactory and agreed.

I will record how this Government served the people of Cork. During the miserable years of the Fianna Fáil-PDs Government, no jobs were created in Youghal in my constituency. Since this Government took office, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, designated the town as a tax incentive area and jobs are now being created. The Eastman Kodak factory was built and has started to operate. It has brought 450 jobs to the town, which will rise to 700 in the not too distant future. I am sure Deputy O'Keeffe knows the village of Killeagh in east Cork.

What about Glenbo? It will be flooded again.

In the miserable years of the Fianna Fáil-PDs Government the village lost Merrill Dow, which would have been a major employer.

Our Government did not lose that factory.

Deputy Mulvihill should direct his attention to his own villages.

The company went to Italy where it now employs 500 people. Deputy Harney was a Minister of State at the time and objected to the building of the plant — Deputy O'Keeffe should know that.

Deputy Mulvihill should be on this side.

In Cobh, the then leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Reynolds, promised to re-open Cork dockyard with a potential 450 jobs but he sold it to a foreign company for a pittance and not one job was created.

Fine Gael and Labour closed that dockyard.

Fianna Fáil promised to re-open the yard but it did not create one job, the party handed it over to a foreign company. An Irish company bought it subsequently and 300 jobs were created in Cork dockyard under this Government.

On a point of order, what does Deputy Mulvihill propose to do for Cork?

Not so long ago I was accused by Deputies opposite of having failed the workers of Irish Steel. Fianna Fáil should remember that their putative Government partners, the Progressive Democrats, wanted to close it down.

So did the Minister, Deputy Quinn.

Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats will close many places in east Cork together. We kept Irish Steel open and the proof is there.

Labour should keep its options open after 6 June.

This Government worked to save the jobs and they have now been secured for the future.

A pattern of growth, development, building and progress can be seen across Cork under this Government. Urban renewal schemes have been initiated in Mallow and Cobh. Hospitals in Youghal, Mallow, Cobh, Midleton and Fermoy have received major investment. Waiting lists have been halved and there has been particular success in reducing waiting time for hip replacements. Some £300 million has been invested in roads. The list of developments includes the Mallow road project, the Glanmire-Carrigtohill bypass, the Cork to Bandon road and the Carrigtwohill to Dunkettle section of the N25.

Fianna Fáil did all that.

Please desist, Deputy O'Keeffe. Deputy Mulvihill's time is limited and you will have your chance.

I will not list all the projects, I will leave some for Deputy Lynch. Over £100 million was invested in national roads in Cork in 1995 and 1996, which is one-quarter of the national spending on roads in those two years.

This Government has abolished third level fees. I am amused Deputy Martin has the neck to contribute to this debate. When his party was in power with us he welcomed that move, but when Fianna Fáil forced the collapse of that coalition he changed his tune pretty fast. I could not help smiling at his comments on the need for a Minister for Cork. If that is how easily he changes his mind on an issue of national importance, I hope he does not aspire to anything higher than the Opposition Front Bench, for he will surely be disappointed.

My colleagues and I have demonstrated that this is a Government for all the people. By tabling this motion and the motion on Dublin last week, Fianna Fáil has attempted a cynical divide and conquer approach. However, this Government serves all the people and our record shows that includes the people of Cork. Extensions have been provided for Scoil Gobnait in Mallow and Ballycotton national school. Killavullan national school has been refurbished, as has Conna national school. The list goes on.

And Mitchelstown CBS.

Exactly. I do not have time to read out the entire list. The abolition of third level fees was not our only achievement in the education field.

Fianna Fáil did that.

This Government has begun to undo the damage caused to our schools by the neglect of the PD-Fianna Fáil Government. Just ask the parents of the pupils.

I could go on forever listing what this Government has achieved for Cork. I did not mention the £3 million water supply scheme for Cobh. We have invested £4.5 million in the Mitchelstown sewerage scheme. We have invested £2.7 million in the water supply scheme in Macroom and £3 million in a similar scheme in Schull. The list goes on and on.

The housing figures illustrate the deficiencies of the "cut, cut, cut" years of the Fianna Fáil-PD Government. The public housing programme has increased by two thirds in Cork to 10,000 completions in 1996. An enormous £22 million was spent in Cork on capital allocations and the remedial works scheme. That is almost treble what the Progressive Democrats want to spend. Its policy is that those who cannot afford houses should not get them.

I am proud of what this Government has achieved. We have a strong record of delivery, achievement and service. Where the Fianna Fáil-PD Government failed the people, we have righted those wrongs. Deputies Martin, Walsh and O'Keeffe should hang their heads in shame at bringing this motion before the House.

I wish to share my time with the Minister of State, Deputy Coveney.

I am sure that is quite satisfactory and agreed.

In November 1994, two and a half years ago, there were by-elections in Cork North-Central and Cork South-Central. I was amazed to hear Deputy Michael Smith this morning talk about Fianna Fáil's input into Cork North-Central, which I represent as a result of that by-election. He said Fianna Fáil had decided to demolish the Blackpool flats because of the social problems connected with them. Blackpool is one of four villages which form the periphery of Cork city. If people in Blackpool were asked what Fianna Fáil ever delivered to the area, they would say the only item it delivered was the Blackpool flats. Deputy Michael Smith is now telling us that because of the many problems attached to those flats that he gave the go-ahead for them to be pulled down. That is not the case as they are now being offered for sale on the private market.

I hope the era of demolishing buildings and hiding problems as quickly as possible is long over. The unimaginative solutions which Fianna Fáil presented to the people of Cork North-Central for almost 60 years are long gone. At long last the people are beginning to see that.

The Governments in power prior to that by-election forgot entirely about Cork city. Even at local level they had deliberately abandoned the north side of the city, whether it was in respect of planning, job creation or education. On a previous debate on education proposed by Fianna Fáil on Private Members' business, I quoted frightening figures outlined in Patrick Clancy's paper entitled Who goes to College?, which has since been updated. These indicated that only 1 per cent of the children of unskilled workers availed of third level education, while approximately 40 per cent dropped out in their first year for good reasons associated with the lack of social support, care, peer pressure, etc. All these factors exist in Cork North-Central and while not all those who did not want to go to college live there, they did not go because of deliberate neglect.

I am not concerned with boasting; I do not care as long as action is taken. I am glad to see that Fianna Fáil has at last got a conscience about the people it deliberately ghettoised and neglected. Nevertheless, we should deal with fact. When Fianna Fáil was in Government its actions were based on fantasy, which appears to have become more prevalent within the party, even though it has been in opposition for only two and a half years.

Since entering office, the Government has achieved a record rate of job creation of 7.6 per cent in the south-west, including Cork. This represents 50 per cent more jobs than that achieved during the Government led by Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, when the numbers of jobless in the south-west increased by almost 18 per cent. This Government, which includes Democratic Left, has seen the unemployment figure in the Cork region plummet by 17.8 per cent. Unemployment in the region is below the national average. When Fianna Fáil was in power, it was no great boast for anybody in Cork city to acknowledge that Cork had an above average unemployment rate.

In 1996, 1,022 new jobs were created in Cork city and county. An additional 1,400 jobs will be created in new projects which have been announced for the south-west region. Over 800 jobs in the electronics sector will shortly be provided in the Cork city area. Most people forget that Cork city and county is now the silicon valley of Ireland because of a good environment and a well educated young population able to take up the jobs.

It can be very boring when statistics are thrown into the middle of a debate like this. We should deal with facts. With regard to consumer affairs, Deputy Ned O'Keeffe rightly pointed out that Cork is far from Dublin and that people do not have ready access, especially if there are complaints at the lower end of the scale. Fianna Fáil promised an office of consumer affairs which did not materialise until Deputy Rabbitte became Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment. Similarly, at one stage people had to have constant recourse to money lenders because they could not manage on the pittance they were provided with until legislation and an infrastructure was put in place with regard to MABS, which started in Cork and has extended to virtually the entire country. The credit union legislation will cater for a different sector.

All these measures were put in place in two and a half years, not 60 years. It involved recognising the problems and doing something positive about them. I worry that people will start to believe Fianna Fáil rhetoric, when they never have in the past.

What will the Deputy's party do after 6 June?

It is not what we will do, but what we have done. That is the difference. Fianna Fáil keep telling us what they will do, but they did not do it in the past. We did not talk about it; we just did it.

There is still a huge amount of work to be done in the area of education in Cork north central. A most innovative and creative scheme, breaking the cycle, was introduced last year. Everybody is aware of the statistics on people who leave school between the ages of 16 and 24 without qualifications. They will be unemployed and are likely to remain so. Almost 4,000 children leave school annually without qualifications and they will be the unemployed of the future. Generations of families in Cork North-Central are unemployed and this must be stopped.

The breaking the cycle initiative and the early start scheme are two of the best programmes ever introduced to tackle unemployment in terms of life skills and how society will be ordered in the future. Two schools, St. Mary's on the Hill and Gurranebraher, were omitted from the breaking the cycle scheme but nobody is sure why. People who know the areas these two schools serve are aware that they would qualify irrespective of the criteria used to measure deprivation.

Deputy Martin's solution to this was announced to great applause. He said that, if he was Minister for Education, every one teacher school would receive a second teacher. This type of scatter gun approach has left Cork north central and other similar areas needing the benefit of the breaking the cycle and early start schemes. How could one justify giving two teachers to a school that has ten pupils? The Deputy did not mention Cork North-Central and schools which are hugely deprived.

I did not know the Deputy was like Mrs. Thatcher.

Deputy Martin spoke about schools where such comments are handy catch phrases and nice buzz words. Resources should be concentrated.

I do not believe this. Deputy Lynch is the Mrs. Thatcher of the left.

That would not suit Deputy O'Keeffe because he does not get votes there.

Mrs. Thatcher would suggest that. The Deputy should follow the example of Mr. Tony Blair.

The Deputy is well represented by Fianna Fáil and its able spokespersons.

Deputy O'Keeffe will have an opportunity to contribute soon. In the meantime he should contain himself. I ask him to desist from further interruption.

I am shocked and disturbed.

No more interruptions, Deputy.

It never ceases to amaze me, after all they did not do, that members of the Fianna Fáil Party still have the audacity to tell us how great they are. They will knock on doors, tell people what they did and say how little this Government has done. They will have the cheek to stand there without blushing, but that comes from years of practice. However, they will be practising a long time because they will be in Opposition for some time to come.

This Government has been in office for less than two and a half years. In that relatively short time, it has achieved much for the country and for Cork. I will refer to some of these achievements not in a complacent way, but to record the factual position, particularly in Cork.

By now it is universally accepted that the overall performance of the economy is remarkable by any standard; it is without parallel in Europe. That sustained performance could not have occurred without the prudent management of the public finances and the policies and initiatives followed by this Government.

The high growth, low inflation and low mortgage and interest rates which we now enjoy are directly related to the manner in which the Government is managing the economy. The results have enabled us to make a positive impact on job creation, to reduce taxation and create the additional resources to invest in crime prevention, infrastructure, education, health and social welfare. The future also looks bright. That is the view not just of the Government but, more importantly, of the independent Economic and Social Research Institute in its optimistic forecast published last week. This is a brief glimpse of the national position but how has Cork fared? I have lived in Cork all my life and I cannot recall any period when there was so much confidence and optimism.

Of course, there are exceptions and that always will be the case. Much remains to be done and the two speakers who preceded me have referred to that. It is disingenuous of the Opposition to deny the spectacular improvements which have taken place in Cork within the very short lifetime of this Government, some of which I might now cite.

On the jobs front, more and more industrial jobs are being created in Cork — 6,500 in a little over two years — at Ringaskiddy, Ovens, Mahon, Pouladuff, Little Island, Model Farm Road, Fermoy, Youghal, Macroom and elsewhere. This is only part of the picture as record growth continues to create jobs in every sector in Cork, particularly in services of all kinds, in construction and in tourism. For the first time in years unemployment is steadily reducing month by month. It is forecast that between mid-1994 and mid-1997 the increase in the numbers of people at work in the south-west region will reach an unprecedented 25,000 approximately.

The pipeline for new international investment in jobs is particularly strong. I am aware that at least two major overseas companies are seriously examining the possibility of establishing plants in Cork, each with a job potential in excess of 1,000. Needless to say, these are not a reality until formal decisions are announced and I do not claim them to be such. I mention them merely to emphasise the attractiveness of Cork as one of the best industrial locations for modern industry anywhere in Europe and to demonstrate the healthy level of inquiries in the pipeline for Cork.

Another favourable indication of progress on the jobs front is the number of world-class, household names now locating in Cork, companies such as Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson and last week Warner Lambert, to name but a few.

The contribution of IDA-Ireland in all of this has been very significant. I want to acknowledge and thank that agency for all it is doing to bring top class international companies to Cork and to facilitate the expansion of existing international companies there which is just as important but which, to my astonishment, Members opposite seemed to decry as being some kind of inferior development. Expansion of existing companies is the best vote of confidence in the future of Cork.

I refer the Minister of State to the 1996 IDA report.

I must also emphasise the important and increasing contribution of our indigenous industries to the increased economic activity in the Cork region. I should also like to congratulate and thank Forbairt for its success in that sector. In addition, the four Cork enterprise boards are playing a most important part in the creation of additional jobs in smaller industries. Well done to them too.

There is one other initiative on the jobs front to which I should like to refer especially, that is the announcement in the past week of the establishment of an enterprise zone on lands immediately adjacent to Cork Airport. As Minister of State at the Department of Finance I have been involved directly in obtaining tax incentives for this very exciting development for Cork which has the potential to create several thousand well-paid jobs in the kind of specialised industries and services seeking to locate beside an established international airport. This is a real breakthrough for Cork Airport which will bring not only direct jobs but provide much additional business for the airport itself. It also has the prospect of bringing in its wake other desirable developments such as a major hotel and conference centre adjacent to the airport.

That is a very brief status report on the Cork jobs front, a good story and one that provides real hope for the people of Cork in the years ahead. However, much remains to be done to reduce the unemployment figures further. It can be done and, with this Government in office, it will be done.

While the Government's primary aim is focused unashamedly on the creation of jobs, it certainly has not neglected investment in infrastructure, education, health, recreation and the arts in Cork. The Government has secured enormous funds for Cork's infrastructure, particularly in the road system both around the city and throughout the county. Investment in sewerage and water, though sometimes less noticeable, is nevertheless fundamental to a developing region and this Government has also invested heavily in these essential services throughout Cork. There was a reference to two major road projects, the Blackpool bypass and the extension of the southern ring road to and around Ballincollig. The Government is unequivocally committed to ensuring that these two essential projects are provided at the earliest practical date. They were not provided for in the EU-funded programme up to 1999 negotiated by the previous Government, which is now loud in its condemnation of this Government in that regard.

Turning briefly to education, which is the key to much of our future, the Government as well as eliminating fees on third level education has supported fully the necessary expansion of facilities at both UCC and Cork regional technical college, soon to be the Cork Institute of Technology. This support will continue and grow in the years ahead if this Government is returned to office. We have also invested heavily in our schools, with a major new community college at Glanmire, a new special school at Fota and extensions to Our Lady of Lourdes, Ballinlough, Crab Lane, Ballin-temple, as well as a splendid new sports hall at St. Anthony's, Ballinlough.

On the health front, the Government has provided up to £12 million for the construction of a major new facility at the Mercy Hospital. Nothing comparable was invested in the health services in Cork during the lifetime of the previous three administrations, and that speaks for itself. The Minister for Health has made the long-awaited decision to centralise maternity facilities at Cork University Hospital and has invested heavily in new equipment in all Cork hospitals.

In the area of recreation and sport, the investment in three spectacular projects will change for the better the quality of life and enjoyment for many Cork people. I refer to the fine, new regional pool at Bishopstown costing £2.5 million, the magnificent new racecourse at Mallow due to open very shortly and costing in excess of £8 million and the expansion in visitor and other facilities at Fota Wildlife Park costing £0.50 million.

Arts and culture in Cork have been given priority by the Government. A major new extension to the Crawford Art Gallery is under way and Cork has also been designated as a centre of excellence for the visual arts. As a tangible expression of support for that, the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht is investing with Cork Corporation in the provision of major new studios for working artists, which is one of the most exciting developments ever for the arts in Cork. I pay tribute to the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, for his efforts in that regard.

This three-party Government, working closely together, is totally committed to the future prosperity and well-being of the people of Cork city and county. I claim without fear or favour that it has put its money where its mouth is at all levels over the past two and a half years. I hope the forthcoming election will be fought on the record of this Government as well as on the programmes of the respective parties. On that basis the people of Cork will endorse what we have been doing and give us the opportunity to continue to enhance our efforts on their behalf in the years immediately ahead.

I am delighted to support the motion put down by Deputy Martin and other Cork Deputies on the Opposition side. I came in here with a very positive mind to debate what should be done for Cork, but I was disappointed in what I heard. There has been no mention of what will be done in the future; we heard only about what happened in the past, and most of that was done under Fianna Fáil administrations.

The motion is about our record, not about the future.

It is sad that, as we approach a general election, the Government does not even have a policy for Cork. This debate about Cork is necessary and long overdue. The Minister said last night that he heard only old slogans and that the Opposition lacks focus for Cork. How often did he or any other Minister experience Cork's quality of life? The answer is rarely, and the reason is that Cork is not represented at the Cabinet table. I am a close friend of the Minister, Deputy Coveney. We met long before we ever thought we would be in this House. If allowed continue in office he would have made a significant and a major difference to the Cork area and the whole southern region. He is a man of ability, integrity and capacity for work. I doubt if this Government will be returned to office. On 6 June the people will take a positive decision for change. Because of the way the Government mismanaged the economy, a crisis is looming in the currency area. After the election we will work from the Government side and Deputy Martin, who has ability and is academically qualified, will be in a Cabinet position. He is Cork's dream for a future Jack Lynch. I am not about to reiterate the facts which highlight the experiences of Cork under this Government. That Cork got well below the national average for the IDA Ireland jobs 1996 and Government targets in upgrading Cork regional technical college to an institute of technology status are symptoms of a serious malaise affecting the region's economy.

I am only echoing the IDA report of 1996 which stated Cork did not get the required number of jobs in the south-west region. The only statistics and information available to me and the only names I can suggest, with which the Minister is familiar, are Eastman Kodak in Youghal, which is practically in the south-east, the health company in the Ringaskiddy area, and Bergin in Fermoy. They are the only three major industries with which I can identify in the Cork region. Cork has been totally neglected in the industrial development of this country. Every day we hear announcements of job creation for Dublin and Galway but there is little or nothing for the Cork area. I do not wish to be negative but to be positive but the IDA report of 1996 is the only information available to me and it justifies what I have said.

Fianna Fáil proposed this debate to initiate a progressive social and economic policy that must be put in place for Cork immediately. We ask the Government to expedite such a plan now but issue a warning that if it fails to do so, Fianna Fáil will put a plan in place.

Cork, as a marketing centre, has a rich tradition which, if properly fostered, would allow Cork to function as the California of the south coast. Cork led the way in butter marketing. Why have we not continued to lead the way in marketing? The first Ford factory built outside the United States was in Cork and I think the first tractors were built in Cork. Cork was and still is the transatlantic gateway to North America and to Canada. The first emigrants left the shores of this country from Cobh. We have not exploited the potential of that important facility.

They have been coming back for the past few years.

Cork has Silicon Valley potential. I was glad to hear of the conversion to the Mrs. Thatcher policies of Democratic Left, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. The prosperous cooperatives of the south-west and the reputable tourism industry need to be sustained and expanded through a coherent strategy for Cork and the south-west. I am committed to such a strategy and shall outline to the House a plan which, if acted on, would yield the necessary positive results. We have to look at the potential of our food industry in the Cork region because Cork controls practically the whole food industry. It has the micro-electronics centre, tourism and other industries. Cork city and county are identical to California on a smaller scale. We have tourism, technology, food and all that goes to make up a good mix for a prosperous county.

Given its potential we should have full employment in Cork city and county but it has been neglected.

My approach to a sustainable strategy for Cork comes under the following headings: Cork as a European city, Cork European regional innovation, creating opportunities for enterprise in the Cork region, and making Cork's transport clean and fast. It is a Fianna Fáil priority to make Cork a thriving European city while retaining its uniqueness in an Irish context to enhance relationships through language studies, sport, holidays, culture, arts, music and other interests. It is necessary to renew and regenerate contacts and connections made in the sixth century by Irish monks and scholars abroad. It was at this time that the currency of Irish culture was first circulated and it is in the interests of Cork that this historical partnership be developed.

There are links by ferry to Wales and Swansea from Cork as well as Rosslare to Brittany and air links to Cornwall and other continental destinations from Cork International Airport. These connections would complement a newly formed language centre in University College Cork and Cork could become the language centre of Ireland. University College Cork could reveal itself in its micro-electronics research centre by fostering links with the finest universities of Spain, Italy and France. As a centre of excellence for students of the English language, many of the 1993 post primary schools in Cork City and county could be encouraged to establish links with other European schools and adopt student exchange schemes. Air links to Bordeaux in France and Bilbao in Spain should be established to develop an international reputation for Cork. In the field of sport——

They should win the All Ireland.

We will find that out on 6 June. There will be many vacant seats opposite.

Cork is also unique in the area of film festivals, hotels and other forms of tourist accommodation and the conservation of our built and natural heritage. Cork should be established as a model for innovation in the European Union. The European Commission is preparing a policy on innovation which, inter alia, will address the use of innovation at a regional level to help small and medium sized industries. The starting point should be the establishment of a national innovation centre in Cork. The main work of the centre would be to identify international contacts; to identify or develop niche technology companies — we have not being doing that; to assist in the preparation of tenders and to lobby sources; to source the finance for the development of companies; to protect intellectual property rights with trademarks, patents and copyrights and to assist in the management of new and expanding companies. The Minister of State referred to the last item but nobody believes him because it is not happening. The IDA report does not bear out what the Minister of State has said.

I can give the Deputy the figures if he wishes.

They only have the Minister of State's imprimatur.

If one combines the IDA, Forbairt and the county enterprise boards the figure is 6,500.

The inclusion of public and private bodies as well as research centres will be prerequisites to success. Notwithstanding the initial need for EU funds, in the medium-term, such an innovation centre should become self-financing.

The creation of opportunities for enterprise in the Cork region would be a further step to maintaining a progressive social and economic climate for Cork city and county. The Cork region has a population of about 450,000. The Government has not provided a fraction of the required inward investment needed to create a self-sufficient Cork. Fianna Fáil considers that Cork must become an enterprising region to benefit the south-west. As a starting point it is important to increase the general science and technology awareness of companies in the services and manufacturing sectors. Technology is a major factor for success.

To develop a plan for industry in Cork it will be necessary to designate Cork as a European region of innovation and establish there an organisation capable of integrating and developing local enterprise and attracting more business from multinationals in the Cork region. This could be developed through the innovation centre to which I referred, a supplier-management organisation with professional expertise in the technical and commercial arena capable of working with the multinational companies and developing business by providing complete solutions to a supply base developed in the Cork region. This concept has the backing of State agencies such as Forbairt. However, such a framework can only be sustained into the next millennium with the development of an integrated information network in the region.

Quality of life is the overriding priority for my party which is a party of the people, of development, innovation and great success. Fianna Fáil considers that the strategies identified in the Cork land use and transportation plan are necessary to bring Cork's transport quality up to a level enjoyed in other European cities. The action required to achieve this includes a "green audit" of transport in 1998; quality bus and minibus systems in place by 2000; Blarney railway station to be opened by 1998, the Midleton branch to open shortly and the Youghal branch by 2000; regional road widening and county road improvement——

Mr. O'Sullivan

Who closed the railway lines and stations?

The Labour Party when in Government with Fine Gael in the period 1948-51. The Minister of State's party did more damage to this country——

Mr. O'Sullivan

Who closed them?

The Minister of State should read his political history.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

There should be no further interruptions and the Deputy should not invite them.

The county roads in Cork are falling apart. We cannot cut the hedges now for fear of damaging the birds' nests. That is the kind of Government we have. We should cut the hedges. Other actions needed include the introduction of cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings in Cork city and suburbs; there should be by-passes for Blackpool by 1999 and for Ballincollig, Youghal, Fermoy, Bandon and Macroom by 2000. We are putting down these markers for the action we will take. There should be school minibus legislation by 1998. Where is the Government's programme? It does not have one.

Mr. O'Sullivan

We provide the services.

In looking to the future we should learn from the past. The 1916 Proclamation refers to the Republic guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to all citizens and to cherishing all the nation's children equally. This Government has not taken the actions necessary to fulfil these worthy objectives in the Cork region. Fianna Fáil's approach to Cork will be equitable and productive. What I have said puts down a marker for Fianna Fáil in Government and for Cork's future. We will not neglect Cork.

I heard Deputy Mulvihill refer to Merril Dow in Killeagh, but I know what happened there. The number of teachers in schools was also mentioned and Deputy Lynch said schools with ten pupils should not have two teachers. We have a social conscience and we know what the people need. We will give them two teachers. We will look at rural Ireland in that context. Cork has a noble and proud tradition. It is a city of learning and, as the UCC saying goes, "Where Finbarr taught let Munster learn".

I support the condemnation of the Government for its neglect of Cork city and the south-west region and its failure to ensure balanced economic development, to provide sufficient educational resources to tackle high unemployment and to implement all aspects of the land use transportation study. Cork is a fine place and it could be finer if it received an equitable share of the national cake. Fianna Fáil has tabled this motion in an attempt to restore a balance so that Cork and the south-west region would benefit from the tiger economy which the Government inherited from past Fianna Fáil Governments.

Cork is a university city and it has a regional college with institute of technology status. Fair treatment would take some of the mushrooming growth from Dublin. One of the saddest monuments to the Government is the overgrown site at Horgan's Quay which should now be a science park. Cork deserves a premium science park, an equivalent of the Citywest business park in Dublin. Certain industries are attracted to Dublin thanks to Citywest and to Limerick thanks to the Plassey Technology Park. There is a sufficiency of land and resources around Cork airport to site a top of the range science park for Cork——

That is what will be there.

It is not there. Cork city does not have a Citywest equivalent.

That is what will be there with what we have announced.

It had better be in place before 6 June because it has not been done to date. If announcements alone could keep the people in jobs there would be no jobs shortage. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Citywest has no equivalent in Cork. The incoming Fianna Fáil Government will initiate such a project immediately. That is the least Cork city, given its size, history and reputation, deserves. The shenanigans in this House in relation to the Horgan's Quay site brought nothing but shame to the rainbow coalition Government. Where are the people who sent faxes to say they were interested in developing the site several years later? It was a charade which the Government would prefer to forget.

University College, Cork, deserves every support and requires investment from the Exchequer and Structural Funds. When in office I ensured that Structural Funds were provided for different faculties, particularly the food science faculty. It is the only university in the country which produces graduates in dairy and food science and needs to keep up-to-date with developments in our most important indigenous industry in which there is a need for additional manpower and personnel resources. There is a need for additional well trained managers with, for example, language skills in seeking the most remunerative markets worldwide for our products.

I welcome the moves to upgrade Cork regional technical college to institute status. This will enable it to make a marvellous contribution in the development of industrial facilities. As the Ministers of State opposite are aware, a number of industries have been attracted to Cork city and county and expanded because of University College, Cork and Cork regional technical college which are a vital link in developing our commercial and industrial infrastructure.

In the south west region there is a need for adequate infrastructure. I am glad the road from Cork city to Bandon has been considerably improved. I look forward to the road from Bandon to Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Bantry and Castletownbere being improved as one cannot have a policy on regionalisation if one cannot gain access to regional centres. It is not possible to develop industries in rural areas if the road structure is inadequate.

There are a number of top class co-operatives in west Cork, including Barryroe, Lisavaird, Drinagh and Bandon, which provide much needed employment for the farming community in the region. The road to Barryroe in particular needs to be upgraded. Drinagh co-operative is a major employer and serves the Mizen Head and Beara peninsulas. It is the lifeline for their populations but Drinagh is linked to Dunmanway by a local by-road on which articulated trucks have to pull in to lay-bys to allow each other to pass. This is not good enough at a time when the economy — the Celtic tiger — is thriving. If we cherish all the regions equally, we need to provide arteries to those industries before it is too late.

Castletownbere is a major fishery port. If it was not so designated, the population of the Beara Peninsula would be dependent on social welfare payments and small time farming. In 1981 a special concession was made to expend a limited amount each year on the road from Glengarriff to Castletownbere. On many occasions trucks destined for the Continent have got bogged down having slipped into dykes along the side of the road. It needs to be upgraded to national road status. The road from Castletownbere to Kenmare also needs to be upgraded.

In Question No. 76 on Thursday, 6 February, I asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the total number of jobs announced for the west Cork area. He informed me in reply that in 1996 a total of 85 overseas companies indicated their intention to invest in Ireland and that of these 11 announced their intention to invest in the south west region of Cork and Kerry with an expected job creation total of 1,496. However, none of these 11 announcements was for location in the west Cork area.

It is a source of much disappointment to those involved in the fishing industry in Kinsale, Courtmacsherry, Schull, Union Hall and Castletownbere that the words "fisheries" or "marine" do not appear in the latest propaganda from the Fine Gael organisation issued on two occasions in recent weeks which contains the photographs of the two Deputies for the area. Will someone contact Fine Gael headquarters and tell them to rectify this?

Immediately. At least we have two candidates.

The Ministers of State have only a few weeks to rectify it.

I give Deputy Walsh some credit. Unlike some of his colleagues, he at least referred to the motion on the clár. I wish to respond to some of the points he made. The amendment commends the Government for the implementation of policies which have supported significantly improved economic and social progress in Cork city and the south west. I will not list its achievements. Last night the Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, won that argument quite convincingly.

He did not.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I did not interrupt the Deputy. The motion refers to the Land Use Transportation Study. I was Lord Mayor of Cork when the study was published and I introduced it to the city council. Unlike some of the Deputies opposite, I took an active part in the discussions which preceded the publication of the study. I am familiar with its contents and am happy that its aims have been adhered to in most cases.

On the question of education, the reason Deputy Martin has been such an active Opposition spokesperson on education is that we have had an extremely busy Minister for Education. For example, she introduced the White Paper on Education and the Early Start and the Breaking the Cycle programmes. These revolutionary programmes are aimed at primary education, which is where one should start. We are working from the bottom up to ensure that all children have a fair chance.

When dealing with education we tend to refer to second and third level education. This is regrettable. There has been no reference by the Deputies opposite to the abolition of university fees which has given many people an opportunity to attend third level education. Many of my generation could not even contemplate going to university.

That is nonsense, it has not meant even one additional place.

Mr. O'Sullivan

It has to do with access, not places. It is disingenuous of the Deputy to ignore this point. He is ignoring for his own reasons the achievements of the Government.

The motion refers to the neglect of Cork city and the south-west and the failure to implement all aspects of the Land Use Transportation Study. This study does not refer to the south-west, it refers to Cork city and the greater Cork area. On this basis alone, the Deputies opposite are working from a false premise.

Deputy Ned O'Keeffe assured me prior to the debate that he would be extremely positive in his remarks. He referred to the Celtic tiger. I respectfully suggest to the Deputy that he is better versed in the affairs of "Babe" and that species than he is in the Celtic tiger and should confine his remarks to matters with which he is familiar. He also referred to the rail network. Deputy Martin is fortunate not to remember the decimation of the rail network. Who closed the Macroom and Bandon lines? The closure of these lines has given rise to serious transport problems in areas west of Cork city. The year before these lines were closed by the then Fianna Fáil Government all the signal boxes, level crossings and equipment were downgraded so as to ensure that the arguments in favour of closure could be upheld.

I am sorry Deputy Martin did not have a place at the Cabinet table in the previous Government. It has been stated that he is the second Jack Lynch. I sincerely hope that this is the case but unfortunately I will not be around to give him the freedom of Cork city which I afforded to Jack Lynch on his retirement.

University College Cork is bursting at the seams. Unfortunately the college's bid for a convenient plot of land was not successful but thankfully it was successful in securing land beside the greyhound track. Deputy Martin says no extra places have been made available but this is not the case. Is it right that a university or other institution should close for six months of the year?

It is not closed for six months.

Mr. O'Sullivan

It is, and the Deputy should know that because his wife is at home during that time.

I regret that Deputies chose to politicise the debate on regional technical colleges and institute of technology status. A workable solution has been put forward and I sincerely hope that the criteria will be met. Deputy Martin took over from me as chairman of the City of Cork vocational education committee. It is a terrible indictment of the Deputy and Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, who is on the staff of the regional technical college, that they should criticise the education system. They have a central role to play in this area. Education does not stop within the confines of University College Cork or the regional technical college. I hope that institute of technology status will be allowed before long.

Access to the arts is very important in the context of education. The Government has taken steps to increase access to the arts by allocating funding to the Everyman Palace, the Cork Opera House, Crawford Gallery, Blackwater Artists, Cork Printmakers and Kino Cinema. All these projects have been funded——

By Europe.

Mr. O'Sullivan

Without the endorsement of the Minister this investment could not have taken place. Never before in the history of Cork has there been such investment in the arts and I am very proud to be a part of this.

I thank the Deputies who participated in the debate. If nothing else, the motion has placed Cork and the south-west on the Dáil agenda which is no bad thing. It is important on the eve of the general election to focus on the needs of Cork and the future needs of its people. While I welcome the additional investment in the arts outlined by Deputy O'Sullivan, the operational programme for the allocation of funding to the arts, which is the key ingredient in all this, was negotiated by the previous Fianna Fáil-Labour Government.

If one compares the allocations to Cork and Dublin one will find huge disparities. This huge disparity between the regions and Dublin has been well documented.

The Deputy said his party made the allocations.

We made the global allocation from Structural Funding but it was for the Minister and the Government to decide how it was distributed to the various areas. It is proposed to spend £120 million on an arts centre in the docklands area of Dublin. It is important to compare this with the paltry sum allocated to the Cork Opera House.

Mr. O'Sullivan

A sum of £2.4 million was allocated to the Crawford Gallery.

I am making the point that there are still huge disparities.

Our central argument is that the Government has been engaged in a holding operation in regard to Cork and there has been no vision or strategic plan. The Government reneged on its first commitment to appoint a Minister from Cork. During the by-election campaigns in Cork North-Central and Cork South-Central Fine Gael said Cork would have a voice at the Cabinet table. However, this did not happen. This is reflected in the number of industrial projects in the region. The Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Bruton, spoke yesterday about the success of indigenous industries in terms of increased jobs. The economy has been doing well in recent years. The Government of 1987-89 sowed the seeds for the present economic regeneration. It is a bit rich for this Government to claim all the credit for what is essentially the allocation of the fruits of prudent fiscal management of our economy from 1987 to 1989.

We do not claim that.

That is the reality. A large number of new projects have been set up in areas like west Dublin, particularly in the electronics area, but the south west has not benefited from the location of any major industry. Sandoz in Ringaskiddy was one of the last major industries to be set up.

Johnson & Johnson.

I am talking about major projects offering up to 1,000 jobs. We have not succeeded in attracting large scale industry to the south west in the past two and a half years, regardless of the significance of IDA Ireland's pipeline. The south-west and Cork have not benefited to the degree they should have because we do not have the political muscle at the Cabinet table to ensure projects are set up in the south-west.

In relation to education, access to third level education for undergraduate students is about points, not money. The abolition of fees helped to ease the burden on PAYE workers sending their children to college, but nothing was done with the maintenance grant. In Cork, for example——

Mr. O'Sullivan

Deputy McCreevy said we should cut back on expenditure.

——the university and the regional technical college are endeavouring——

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy is at variance with Deputies McCreevy and Harney.

I am not. Tax convenants were abolished. That produced £40 million which was allocated towards the abolition of third level undergraduate fees. I do not have any difficulty with that, but I have a difficulty with the disparities and anomalies that has created. The regional technical college, the PLC colleges and the university are endeavouring to expand adult education. Low income and unemployed families have to pay £200 to £250 per year to access adult education courses in Cork and throughout the country. Is that equality of opportunity? Is that equality of access to third level education? It is a complete nonsense.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy is the chairman of the vocational education committee. What will he do about it?

We will do something about it. The vocational education committee is dependent on resources from central Government. In our contribution to the debate last evening we recorded our admiration for the START students, the management of our PLC colleges, the City of Cork vocational education committee, the university and the regional technical college, but they require commitment from central Government which has been lacking from this Government.

Mr. O'Sullivan

Who was the chairman when the PLCs were introduced?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

This level of interruption will have to cease.

I regret that Labour Deputies in Dublin have been banging on the table and have succeeded in getting additional funding to the detriment of Cork and the south west.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I introduced the PLCs as chairman. The Deputy should get his facts right.

Deputy O'Sullivan should bang the table a little harder because he is losing out in terms of the distribution of resources to education and to schools in the city of Cork.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I was chairman when it was introduced.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

I ask Deputy Martin to address his comments through the Chair and I ask the Minister of State not to interrupt.

The PLC students are the only category of students who do not receive any maintenance grants from central Government. We tried to change Minister Bhreathnach's mind in this regard over the past four years but our pleading fell on deaf ears. That is of particular relevance to Cork because approximately 2,000 students attend the College of Commerce, Colaiste Stiofán Náofa and St. John's Central College. We are actively seeking the advancement and expansion of those institutions. All we have had from the Minister for Education in relation to PLCs is circulars endeavouring to limit their expansion in terms of the number of years in which they can develop courses. That is the reality.

What else can one expect from a Labour Minister?

In relation to LUTS, we advocate that the failure to allocate significant funding for the Blackpool bypass and the Ballincollig bypass is a major mistake on the part of this Government.

They were never on the Deputy's programme, up to 1999.

The Blackpool bypass was on our programme. There was a degree of local agitation approximately four years ago which delayed the project on all sides, but for the past two years the green light has been given locally. There is consensus in the locality in relation to the Blackpool bypass, but there has been a starvation of funding for it.

What about the city ring?

The city ring has created new problems and it is the function of Government to respond to issues as they arise.

We are responding to them.

The situation in Bishopstown is unacceptable and something must be done.

The Deputy's party in Government created that problem.

The Minister of State has not been in this House for long.

We should either move quickly in regard to the Ballincollig bypass or at least provide the funding for the Ardaroistig-Curraheen link, for example, which would be an interim alleviation measure.

That is only a distraction. There are as many people against that as for it.

It is not a distraction, it could easily be done but the Minister for the Environment will not release the funds. The sum of money allocated for the Ballincollig bypass was a sick joke, and it does not auger well for the residents of Bishopstown.

We have a clear vision of what we intend to do for the Cork region.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy means himself and Deputy Batt O'Keeffe.

I mentioned the importance of third level institutions and the need for synergy between education and industry, which has not happened under this Government. When we met the heads of universities, I was amazed at the lack of co-ordination between Government agencies, particularly on the industrial front, and third level institutions having regard to the recent announcement about the provision of additional third level places in colleges to meet the skills shortage. The most strategic mistake by this Government was its failure to properly identify manpower needs which has resulted in the current skills shortage. We broadcast to the world that we have numerous graduates, but the reality is that we do not.

That problem did not arise in the past two and a half years.

It could have been dealt with in the past three years.

A ten year plan is needed to address that problem, not a two and a half year plan.

The Government should have addressed it three years ago when Minister Bhreathnach introduced her measures.

A Labour Minister again.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy's party was in Government three years ago.

Minister Bhreathnach introduced four or five education budgets.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy's party was in Government three years ago.

Minister Bhreathnach lacks strategic vision in regard to third level education. We now have a skills shortage because of a lack of planning and resources targeted at the key course areas such as computer science, technology, language, business, engineering and telemarketing. We are now trying to do all that in 12 months with conversion courses which create risks in terms of quality, etc.

Deputy O'Sullivan referred to the Early Start and Breaking the Cycle initiatives. It is a disgrace that St. Mary's on the Hill in Knocknaheeny, Padre Pio school in Churchfield, and the schools in Mahon and Togher were not included in the Breaking the Cycle initiative. I will challenge anybody in St. Patrick's in Drumcondra to a debate. They can lay the figures before us and try to convince me that St. Mary's on the Hill did not deserve to be included in that programme above any other school in the country. I say that without equivocation. The exclusion of that school was a scandal.

Mr. O'Sullivan

An independent body made that decision.

Deputy O'Sullivan was elected to make decisions on behalf of the people. Irrespective of to whom one talks across the political divide, the social partners——

Deputy Martin made allegations of political interference which he never substantiated.

This issue should be addressed immediately.

Why does the Deputy not substantiate the allegations he made about political interference?

Minister Allen should not make glib promises to the people of Knocknaheeny who met the Taoiseach to discuss the problems in their school. That school did not get one additional teacher.

The Deputy could not substantiate those allegations.

The Government has neglected Cork and certain areas are losing out as a result of the fact that its basic remit is to hold the tide. The Government is involved in a holding operation but that is coming close to an end. A new era will begin with the election of a Fianna Fáil Government on 6 June.

Mr. O'Sullivan

The Deputy's party closed down Ford.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 46.

  • Ahearn, Theresa.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Bhamjee, Moosajee.
  • Bhreathnach, Niamh.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Hugh.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowley, Frank.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Avril.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Brian.
  • Fitzgerald, Eithne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gallagher, Pat (Laoighis-Offaly).
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Mulvihill, John.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Walsh, Éamon.


  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Keogh, Helen.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael
Tellers: Tá, Deputies J. Higgins and B. Fitzgerald; Níl, Deputies D. Ahern and Callely.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.