Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (7)

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Business)

The next question will be introduced by Deputy O'Dowd.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

7. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of the regional enterprise plans; her views on the way in which the plans can support job creation in rural Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Will the Minister outline the status of the new regional enterprise plans and her views on the way in which they can support job creation in rural Ireland, particularly County Louth?

I thank the Deputy for raising this question. In April 2018, I asked all of the regional action plan for jobs implementation committees to start a process to refresh and refocus all regional plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020 in order that they continue to deliver jobs across the country in every region and can be robust to address the challenges we face, including Brexit. The outcomes of this refresh process are nine new regional enterprise plans to 2020, which build on the very strong progress made on employment creation under the Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017. I am in the process of launching the new plans in every region, with eight plans launched to date and a ninth plan, for the south east, scheduled to be launched by the end of this month. Shaped from the bottom up by regional stakeholders, and overseen by my Department, the new regional enterprise plans to 2020 complement national level policies and programmes emanating from the top down and there is strong alignment with Ireland’s national enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed, and the forthcoming future jobs Ireland initiative.

The principle behind the regional enterprise plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the region's enterprise development potential. These stakeholders include local authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the regional skills forum, tourism bodies, private sector enterprise champions, the higher education institutes and others. These new plans, therefore, have a strong relevance for rural Ireland, with actions focused on areas such as skills development, tourism, the food sector, agritech, the marine and maritime, regional enterprise co-working and remote working spaces, talent retention and place-making. I hope that successful initiatives being driven through these plans can be shared as best practice in all regions in rural Ireland.

I welcome the Minister's reply and her recent visit to Drogheda. The problem in County Louth is that the county is in the IDA Ireland north-east region but the land available for development in the region is one field outside of the town boundary and thus in the Meath IDA Ireland mid-east region. Will the Minister address this issue and will she arrange for IDA Ireland executives in Louth and Meath to market this site jointly to ensure that we have people working in the town? Every day, 7,000 people leave Drogheda for work outside of the town. These people would love to work in Drogheda. There is land available in the north-east region but because it forms part of the Meath IDA Ireland portfolio, we do not know who is marketing it. I ask the Minister to address the issue.

I acknowledge that the Deputy was at the launch of the north-east regional enterprise plan in Cootehill. I take his point about the regions. I want to encourage collaboration between the regions and IDA Ireland, which as the Deputy will be aware, operates on a national basis. I accept that we need to address the issue of people from the north east having to travel to Dublin for jobs.

That is recognised in one of the objectives of the north-east regional enterprise plan, which states: "Leverage the full extent of talent residing in the North-East to drive new enterprise investment and growth." There needs to be an audit of the skill set and we want to sell the fact that these people are available in the region for any potential investors that may be interested. These regional enterprise plans make a difference. I attended a number of events in Dundalk, where there is also much happening.

I welcome the Minister's commitment to the region. Without doubt, it was a first-class launch and it is an excellent plan. My question was whether we could arrange, through the Minister's good offices and the IDA, to discuss the Drogheda site, which is in the Border region but in the mid-east administrative region. It is important to address that.

Yes, I will do that. The site to which the Deputy refers is in the mid-east plans, which I also launched. In places such as Naas, the creation of co-working spaces is being considered in order that people can work, for example, a couple of days from home and a couple of days in Dublin. This is the sort of action that we want to facilitate, as can be seen in the future jobs initiative. We want more people to have a better work-life balance, which may involve working from home or working from a centre close to them and then travelling to Dublin for a day or two per week, or whatever they need to do. I will ask the IDA to examine the site the Deputy raised.