Last week the Mayor of Donegal, Cllr. Cora Harvey hosted a conference that explored innovative ways to create employment opportunities in Donegal. The audience, which was made of representatives from local government and statutory agencies, the community and voluntary sector, elected members, TD’s and people who are unemployed, heard examples of good practice from a range of speakers.
Mayor Harvey said: “One of main areas of concern on election as Mayor in 2010 was that of the significantly high rate of unemployment in Donegal. I was delighted to have an opportunity to organise this event as a way of exploring how we can maximise the potential that exists in the county.”
Dragon’s Den star, Sean Gallagher, provided the audience with an inspiring opening address and stressed the need to reinvent ourselves as entrepreneurs and to ensure that what we have to offer in Donegal is relevant to the market and is based on what we are good at. Mr. Gallagher said “there is a need to change the language of negativity that is currently prevalent in the media to a language of solutions and opportunities that will see our communities strengthened and our economic wellbeing enhanced.”
Ian Dempsey, CEO West Cork Development Partnership presented details of the achievements of the Fuchsia brand in West Cork and of the economic impetus in that this regional branding has generated €107 million for the region. He spoke about the potential to replicate this type of branding initiative in County Donegal.
This was followed by an address by Kevin O’Connor, Tourism Development Officer with Donegal County Council, who outlined the tourism potential for Donegal and northwest region and referred to a number of tourism initiatives that Donegal County Council along with other key stakeholders including Failte Ireland are progressing such as Sliabh Liag, Inch Levels in Burt and Malin Head.
Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology highlighted the developments within LYIT over the last 15 years. Mr. Hannigan said “the future economic success of the county will depend on the young people coming out of college today and the graduate retention rate for Donegal continues to be among the highest in the country and this should be seen as a major positive opportunity for the future success of the county.”
The audience heard about the regeneration and development activities that are being driven by ILEX in Derry in the address given by Michael Gallagher, Strategy Manager. Mr. Gallagher said the opportunities for collaboration between Derry and Donegal are being realised through the Northwest Development Partnership and this includes the rollout of the 2013 UK City of Culture where there will be many spin-off opportunities for Donegal.
Seamus Neely, County Manager commended the Mayor on this initiative and highlighted the need to continue collaborative approaches to drive the economic growth of the county. He stated that today’s event has energised all involved in the quest to address the challenges we currently face and has provided a positive and optimistic outlook that we will encourage us in our determination to create healthy and economically sustainable communities.
For further information please contact Donna McGroarty on 074 91 72497.