Offaly businesses given opportunity to outline key priorities

Tullamore Chamber of Commerce to meet Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Dara Calleary

Offaly Express Reporter

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Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen says his party is set to take on board the key priorities for businesses in the Midlands.

Deputy Cowen made the comments after securing a meeting between Tullamore Chamber of Commerce and Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Dara Calleary. The meeting is scheduled to take place on December 8.

“Fianna Fáil is currently in consultation with small businesses right across Ireland to take on board the key issues facing them and what policy steps need to be taken to boost job creation. Tullamore Chamber of Commerce will play an important role in this process and will have the opportunity to put forward proposals to boost job creation in the Midlands,” said Deputy Cowen.

“We are particularly interested in hearing feedback on the National Spatial Strategy and how it can be improved. This strategy provides a planning framework, with an aim of balancing social, economic and physical development right across the country. The current strategy is due to expire in 2020 and it’s important that we identify a suitable replacement programme.

Deputy Cowen stated tha Fianna Fáil has four key priorities for boosting job creation in the Midlands saying that the rollout of high speed broadband needs to be accelerated so that small businesses can operate effectively in small towns and villages.

"We also want to see the creation of ‘incubation units’ to support start-up companies and spin-off enterprises. These units will contain a one-stop-shop helpdesk to assist entrepreneurs in getting their project off the ground.

“Greater transport connectivity is also needed in the Midlands. A north-south road link is needed to connect Birr, Roscrea and Portlaoise through Tullamore and on to Athlone and Mullingar. This will boost economic activity right across the Midlands and will make it easier for businesses to access potential customer’s right across Ireland. The N6 link road to the Tullamore by-pass was approved by a previous Government but was then axed by former Transport Minister Leo Varadkar. This decision needs to be re-examined.

“I also believe we need to reform our system of apprenticeships to make it fit for purpose. Fine Gael has solely focused on boosting high skills, tech-led sectors to the detriment of the wider economy.  The current apprenticeship schemes on offer are limited to a narrow range of occupations, which has led to huge gaps in the system. Fianna Fáil will broaden apprenticeship programmes and create additional places on schemes,” he concluded.