I regret very much recent job losses in County Kerry including the Sports Socks Company's plants in Cahirciveen and Tralee, and Rosenbluth in Killarney, and I am conscious of the adverse effects on the workers and their families.
Finding alternative employment for the workers affected is a priority for FÁS and the State development agencies. FÁS is making available its full range of support services including skills analysis, training and job placement for the workers affected. Arrangements are currently being put in place with the companies concerned to schedule a suitable interview programme for the staff concerned.
In addition to targeting potential new greenfield investment from overseas industrialists, IDA Ireland is working with the existing base of companies in the county with a view to supporting them in expanding and diversifying activities. There is already a diverse range of companies located in County Kerry, representing a number of sectors including international services, engineering, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
IDA Ireland has also completed site development works on its business and technology park in Killarney and is actively promoting the area for new investment, including a new building facility in the park.
Enterprise Ireland is supporting a major expansion at FEXCO, currently under way in Killorglin and Cahirciveen, which will provide additional employment for some 250 people. The agency is working closely with the development of existing enterprises in the county and is promoting the establishment of new enterprises.
In addition, Enterprise Ireland is providing aid for the expansion of Killarney technology innovation centre and to the Institute of Technology Tralee for the establishment of a campus business incubation centre. Shannon Development has invested some €8 million in the development of kerry technology park, Tralee, in partnership with the Institute of Technology Tralee, Kerry County Council and the private sector. This technology park should provide a valuable base for enterprise development in the area. Kerry County Enterprise Board is also providing valuable support for the establishment and expansion of micro enterprises in the county.
The major decentralisation programme announced in the budget includes 165 jobs to be relocated to Killarney and a further 50 jobs for Listowel. This move demonstrates the Government's commitment to balanced regional development and will provide a further boost to enterprise development in Kerry. The designation of both Tralee and Killarney as hub towns under the Government's national spatial strategy adds to the attractiveness of the county for overseas and indigenous investment.
I am satisfied that the combined efforts of the State development agencies, in co-operation with Kerry County Development Board and County Council and other local interests, should provide an adequate framework to deal with job losses and job creation in the county.
I will be glad to discuss the job situation in County Kerry with the relevant interests during my next visit to the area.