The Minister’s announcement that 250 jobs would be created in Killybegs over the next three years met with a mixed reception on Friday.
While nearly everyone welcomed “anything that is positive and will provide jobs”, there was a lot of scepticism about whether the jobs will materialise.
Not unexpectedly, one of the driving forces behind the plan, KFO Chief Executive Sean O’Donoghue, was positive. “This major jobs initiative launched by the Minister for Killybegs area is most welcome and will give a much needed boost to employment that has been in severe decline over the last number of years.
“I am delighted that the Minister has taken on board the views of Seamus Neely Manager Donegal County Council, Jason Whooley CEO BIM and I to develop a new integrated approach to job creation in the area. I am convinced that this new approach will deliver real and sustainable jobs.”
Fine Gael TD Dinny McGinley was also upbeat. “I think it’s very encouraging that the local business people have come up with the idea to create jobs based on natural resources. I think this initiative is a great step forward and I’m confident that the high level committee creating the action plan will help cut through the bureaucracy that has been a problem. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Killybegs Independent TD Thomas Pringle gave a more guarded welcome. “Today’s announcement is very welcome. I look forward to seeing the action plan in September, as that’s when the real work will start. I hope the Minister is as committed to implementing the action plan from September onwards. Certainly, adding value to the fish processing sector in Killybegs will be a learning curve for all involved.”
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty also hoped the Minister would be able to deliver on his promise. “Any initiative that has the potential of creating jobs has to be welcomed. I said before, on the floor of the Dail, that I’m very impressed with this Minister. I hope he lives up to it, as there are many, many challenges to be overcome.”
Isobel Shovlin of the Killybegs and District Chamber of Commerce said: “Anything that’s positive has to be welcomed. Obviously the Chamber will do all it can to assist. We’ve always been proactive in relation to upskilling and development of staff.” However, she noted that the data on which the economic report was based was two years old. “There would have been a significant decline since then.”
Joe Murrin, former CEO of the KFO, put it much more bluntly. Taking the microphone after the Minister’s launch, he said: “I just wonder am I living on the same planet as the people who wrote the report. Michael Keating gave a very glossy introduction to it, but to describe the community of Killybegs as thriving and ‘go ahead’ at the moment is absolute rubbish.
“I didn’t come here to spoil the party but we are going through very, very difficult times. People have forgotten that the basis of Killybegs is fish and we haven’t got that now.
“Any jobs initiative has to be welcomed but I know people will have queries on this.”