Political Notebook: Jobs are what’s required to win the economic war

Jobs, jobs, jobs ! They are, above all, what we require in our bid to win the economic war.

Jobs, jobs, jobs ! They are, above all, what we require in our bid to win the economic war.

Those visiting the jobs’ fair in Dublin at the weekend, and reading the small print of the Government’s initiative on Monday, are likely to be little concerned right now about reopening the Vatican embassy.

For them, the opportunity to work, a basic right in any society, is the priority.

What of the Government’s initiative on jobs ?

The proof of that particular electoral pudding will be in the eating.

Only time will tell if it is an initiative that will yield results or, simply, an admittedly well meaning public relations exercise.

Nobody doubts the sincerity of this Government in its efforts to rescue the economy.

But action, as promised a year ago in the general election campaign, is what is required.

Despite the emphasis on the creation of 100,000 jobs, a catchy and round figure, no new jobs were actually created this week when the Taoiseach, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton met the media.

A total of 270 measures, aimed at providing the incentives and impetus for job creation, were announced.

Not everything announced this week was new.

Some measures were already on the agenda. However, the exercise should not be lightly dismissed.

For instance, in a commendable move, the Government will publish quarterly progress reports on the plan.

And in that regard, Mr Kenny deserves credit for putting on the line that there will have to be tangible results.

“This action plan is going to be actioned and monitored and I will oversee its implementation,’’ he said.

He said that his Department and other Departments would co-ordinate the plan. That is a relief, given that in the past it sometimes emerged that one hand of Government did not know what the other was doing.

A big test will be the ability of small businesses to get the necessary finance from the banks to expand.

The Opposition’s reaction was predictable, with claims that the plan lacked imagination and was a rehash of old ideas.

Fine Gael and Labour would do the same if they were in Opposition.

That’s politics. Things have not changed on that front.

It must be hoped that the plan will work.

But the creation of real and sustainable jobs, which will stand the test of time, will be the yard stick for success.

Thankfully, by the way, the Government did not go for one of those high-tech and glitzy launches that used to be the norm at venues such as Dublin Castle and elsewhere in the past.

On such occasions, the Government’s best china would be brought out, so to speak. There might even be a video. The lighting would be very effective.

Nothing would be left to chance as Hollywood met Government. Now, with the the economic war in full gear, such an exhibition of barely concealed triumphalism would put people off.

So the Government rightly used the Dublin headquarters of the Icon clinical research company as the location for the press conference.

That company has illustrated how real jobs can be created slowly but surely. From that point of view, it was an excellent location.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail appears to be introducing some level of cohesion and clarity to its European policy.

Last week party leader Micheal Martin, in a well composed speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, emphasised the importance of our participation in the European project.

“Ireland badly needs Europe to get through this crisis. In the short, medium and long term a successful European Union is an absolute necessity for a successful Ireland.’’

Mr Martin stressed the importance of putting the Euro on a more secure foundation.

“We need the Union to once again become a driver of growth and stability,’’ he added.

Mr Martin made a welcome move to “put an end to the superficial and wrong idea that there is any doubt about our position on Europe’’.

Mr Martin needed to make those kind of remarks.

Fianna Fail’s flirtation with Euroscepticism was an attempt to watch its electoral back from Sinn Fein and also tap into an apparent growing public mood in Ireland.

That was bad politics. And it was bad for Fianna Fail.

Our hope for economic salvation rests with Europe.

Although Fianna Fail continues to call for a referendum, irrespective of the Attorney General’s legal advice, it has, mercifully, retrieved to a degree its one-time great image of a dynamic and pro-European party.