Header Item Human Rights (Continued)
 Header Item Job Creation
 Header Item Social Welfare Bill 2015: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Social Welfare Bill 2015: Second Stage

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 895 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace]  In November last year we gave permission for two overflights for planes travelling from Dover, Delaware to Saudi Arabia. We found out under a freedom of information request that those planes were carrying class 1 explosives, rockets, liquid fuel and rockets with bursting charges, possibly for the making of cluster bombs which are regarded as illegal. For all we know, because we do not search the planes, there are cluster bombs coming through Shannon. We do not know what is on the military planes coming through Shannon, because we are not allowed ask what is on them because there is supposed to be nothing on them.

How can Ireland continue with this position? How can we say we have a human rights position when we will not even search planes passing through Shannon to check whether they are taking cluster bombs to places like Saudi Arabia?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Ireland does not have an arms industry. The products Ireland sells are products such as soft drink concentrates, medical and pharmaceutical products, infant foods, general industrial machinery and equipment, dairy products, medical devices, stents, pacemakers, digital media and so on. Those are the markets Irish business is selling into in Saudi Arabia and they are important markets for these companies.

Clearly, there are problems in many of the countries we deal with and the regimes can be criticised. However, we must do that through channels that can influence the human rights performance of those countries, and that is what we do. The EU human rights group in Riyadh co-ordinates the European Union's approach and Ireland is actively involved in that. We have significant trade to Saudi Arabia and those companies have valuable markets. My job is to support companies in their export diversification and these are all products that are perfectly acceptable and tradeable.

Job Creation

 10. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his assessment of job creation in Dublin over the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37939/15]

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan What is the Minister's assessment of job creation in Dublin? How many new jobs have been created and, in particular, how many of these have been created for graduates? Is the figure in line with his targets?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A key objective of the Action Plan for Jobs process, which the Government commenced in 2012, was to rebuild our economy based on enterprise and entrepreneurship, talent, innovation and exports and provide a solid foundation for future growth. The goal of the Government has been to replace all of the jobs lost during the economic crisis and deliver sustainable full employment by the end of 2018. This whole of Government effort has been integrated into the Action Plan for Jobs process which aims to strengthen the enterprise base, support entrepreneurship, improve competitiveness and support job creation in Dublin and in every region.

Significant progress has been made in Dublin. Since the Action Plan for Jobs was launched, some 50,000 additional people are back at work in Dublin. This compares with job losses of 90,000 in the period 2008–11. The trend in employment in enterprises supported by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland has been similar. Such enterprises created a net 20,000 jobs in the period 2011–14 compared to 10,000 job losses in the earlier period. In the past year, net employment growth in Dublin was 15,400. There was expansion in all categories of enterprise supported by my Department. This included 3,700 in IDA supported enterprises, 2,350 in EI supported enterprises and 793 in local enterprise office, LEO, supported enterprises.

While good progress is being made, the Government is not complacent about the challenge of achieving sustainable full employment over the medium term in all regions, including Dublin. As part of the 2015 Action Plan for Jobs, we launched the process for developing action plans for every region. The work on the preparation of the Dublin action plan for jobs is currently under way and will set ambitious targets for the region over the coming years to realise the potential of sustainable full employment and improved standards of living for the people of Dublin.

Deputy Flanagan also raised the issue of the employment experience of graduates, but I do not think the CSO gathers data on the net change. However, in terms of the areas in which we have visibility, such as the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, a significant share of graduates are obtaining opportunities in those companies. There is a high skill content to most of the growth in those sectors, so there are good opportunities for graduates, particularly those in the technology, engineering, mathematics field. There is strong performance in both pharma and ICT sectors.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan The retention of nurses, doctors and graduates has been a major issue of concern in this country. We have lost many of them to the United Kingdom and other countries. What emphasis is being placed on ensuring that people who have spent so many years studying here get opportunities? We hear from many graduates that they have no option but to emigrate because of the lack of opportunity. I understand that as the economy picks up, more opportunities will arise, particularly for graduates. Emigration figures show that one out of every six people born in Ireland lives abroad. Many of these are abroad by choice, but there are some people who want to return, but they do not see the opportunities to do so. The Minister's narrative is that he is trying to create opportunities in order to get emigrants, particularly some of those who have emigrated in recent years, to return to Ireland to contribute here. Is he doing anything specific in that regard?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton We will open a portal to allow individuals who are abroad see where there are opportunities emerging in Ireland. There is strong growth in ICT, financial services, bio-pharma and other sectors. The food sector is doing extraordinarily well and the Kerry Group recently filled 900 posts in its research centre. There are thriving and strong areas and opportunities and there are signs there is the beginning of a return flow of emigrants to Ireland. Net emigration is down to one third of what it was at its peak, so we are making headway.

In respect of nurses and doctors, these positions are not in my direct area. However, the Minister for Health has stated there are 3,000 additional people at work in our hospitals compared to a year ago. Therefore, there are opportunities opening for doctors and nurses in the health system. As we continue to see jobs recovery in the wider economy, this will allow us fund improved services in health areas that offer opportunities in those fields.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan I thank the Minister for his response. In regard to doctors and nurses, they do not get the opportunities here to become specialists in different areas and not enough sweeteners are provided to persuade nurses who have emigrated to return. Many well trained people have emigrated over the past years. The message I want from the Minister today is one that will give hope to graduates that opportunities will improve.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I assure the Deputy that opportunities for graduates are very strong in the sectors where I have direct responsibility. As I said to Deputy Durkan, the issue in some areas is a skill shortage, particularly in the technology area. There is a need and desire to see people with qualifications return. In regard to conditions in the health area, that is a matter the Deputy will have to take up with other Ministers. It is heartening to see growth in the numbers employed in the health system and this opens opportunities for people in the sector.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Social Welfare Bill 2015: Order for Second Stage

  Bill entitled an Act to amend and extend the Social Welfare Acts; and to provide for related matters.

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Social Welfare Bill 2015: Second Stage

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This budget and the Social Welfare Bill are designed to build a strong economy and decent society. Budget 2016 is a carefully designed, responsible, interlocking budget where different pieces come together to form an overall picture, a picture of a country moving in the right direction, with living standards being gradually raised in every home.

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