Local TD Denis Naughten has said he is “deeply disappointed” that the Western Region Enterprise Committee failed to specifically consider the pending job losses at Aptar in Ballinasloe, despite a specific request to do so by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
“In June I asked the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD to bring together all the State agencies and the two Local Authorities in Galway and Roscommon, to implement a co-ordinated strategy for the town and the surrounding communities,” stated Denis Naughten.
“I made this request on the basis that Ballinasloe always seems to be just one positive decision away from unlocking its full potential. I pointed out to the Tánaiste that what was now needed is a very focused co-ordination group of all the State bodies to come together over the next four weeks not just to work with the management of Aptar but to explore the full potential of the St. Brigid’s Hospital campus.
“I received a positive response to this request on 14th July when the Tánaiste told the Dáil ‘I am asking the West Regional Enterprise Committee, on which the key agencies and local authorities are represented, to consider all scenarios in relation to this company’.
“However, in a further reply to me yesterday, it now seems that Aptar was not specifically discussed at the Western Region Enterprise Committee meeting on 31st July and there is no clear indication that Aptar, or the town of Ballinasloe, was on yesterday’s committee meeting agenda either.
“It is unacceptable that the plight of job creation in Ballinasloe has not been discussed by this high-level enterprise committee, particularly when the committee was requested to do so by its line-Minister, An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
“I will raise this issue again in the Dáil next week and I hope we can see very focused action by the State’s enterprise agencies on new job creation in Ballinasloe after the loss of 115 jobs at Aptar,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Editor’s Note: See replies from An Tánaiste below.
For Written Answer on : 08/09/2020
Question Number(s): 89 Question Reference(s): 22082/20
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment if he will convene a meeting of the Western Region Enterprise Committee further to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) letter of 29th August to the Tanaiste regarding the planned closure of Aptar Ballinasloe.
The nine Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020 were launched by my Department in early 2019 with the West Regional Enterprise Plan which covers Galway, Mayo and Roscommon being launched in February of that year.
The Plans are focused on supporting enterprise development in all regions. The principle behind the Regional Enterprise Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on ‘bottom-up’ initiatives that can help to realise the region’s enterprise development potential. Through the Plans, the aim is to ensure that quality jobs are created in all regions that are sustainable in the longer term, to secure Ireland’s economic success.
The Plans are also maintained as ‘live’ agendas which aim to be agile and responsive to both new opportunities and new challenges, for example: Brexit, Climate Action, Digital Economy, and most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic economic impacts.
The West Regional Enterprise Plan has 6 Strategic Objectives which focus on building greater capability within the life science sector; ensuring sustainable growth in the tourism sector; building on the West’s unique creative assets; enhancing the growth of Ag Tech in the West; aligning training to current and future skills needs; and enhancing the quality and availability of enterprise space in the West.
The West Regional Steering Committee met on 31 July last and considered the range ofCOVID-19 and wider economic challenges for the West region and indeed issues arising in relation to vulnerable jobs and sectors. They are presently developing options for additional measures that can be taken for the region. The enterprise agencies are represented on the Steering Committee and are doing their utmost to work with stakeholders to manage the impacts of potential job losses.
The West Regional Steering Committee are next scheduled to meet on 8 September next to finalise the options for additional measures that can be taken for the region to mitigate the COVID-19 and wider economic challenges in the region. The impact of job losses in the region will be discussed. The Regional Steering Committees cover a number of counties and with representatives from a range of stakeholders are not best positioned to discuss company specific issues.
My Department has agreed a Job Loss Response Protocol with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Education and Skills. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection lead on this. The protocol puts in place all the efforts to assist the workers. It includes welfare entitlements, job-search assistance and upskilling needs/opportunities.
In May 2017, my Department launched the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) with funding of up to €60m, designed to support the ambition, goals, and implementation of the Regional Action Plans for Jobs/Regional Enterprise Plans. The REDF has been rolled out by Enterprise Ireland. An additional tranche of €40m was provided in 2019.
The REDF is aimed at accelerating economic recovery in all regions of the country by delivering on the potential of local and regional enterprise strengths. The competitive Fund supports significant collaborative and innovative regional initiatives to build on specific industry sectoral strengths and improve enterprise capability, thereby driving job creation.
This is achieved by co-financing the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at a national, regional and county level. The Fund helps to ensure the benefits of our growing economy are felt in all regions.
To date, the REDF has been delivered through three calls with 68 projects across all regions securing a total of almost €100 million in funding.
The West Region secured funding of over €16.7 million across nine projects.
This funding complements other funding such as funding provided under Project Ireland 2040 with funding provided under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund and the Climate Action Fund.
Finally, as regards job creation there are 32,900 more people in employment in the West from Q1 2015, when the first Regional Action Plan for Jobs commenced to Q2 2020. The West has a Q2 2020 unemployment rate of 5.5%, down from 12.6% in Q1 2015.
There have also been positive development in Agency job creation in 2019:
- The West has 115 IDA supported companies employing 27,300 people, up 5.1% from 2018;
- 15,256 people were employed in 429 Enterprise Ireland supported companies in the West, up almost 3% from 2018; and
- There were an additional 317 net jobs created in the West in LEO supported companies in 2019.
From: Denis Naughten <Denis.Naughten@oireachtas.ie>
Sent: 29 August 2020 09:43
To: Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Subject: Aptar Ballinasloe
Further to my previous correspondence and discussions regarding Aptar in Ballinasloe, as you will now be aware the company has announced plan to cease operations in the town with the loss of 115 jobs.
Considering your previous response to me outlining your direction to the West Regional Enterprise Committee to consider all scenarios in relation to this company, I’m now asking you to convene an emergency meeting of this Committee.
I am also requesting that you personally chair this emergency meeting of the Western Region Enterprise Committee to exploit the full employment potential of the Ballinasloe area following the announcement by Aptar to cease operations is the town by year end.
I look forward to a positive response to this request,
Denis Naughten TD
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Denis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
- To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he is taking to secure employment in Ballinasloe, County Galway, following a review of operations announced by a company (details supplied).; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15676/20]
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
I understand that staff at Aptar have been informed that the company is reviewing its operation at Ballinasloe. While no decision has yet been taken, I am informed that this review could lead to redundancies later this year. IDA Ireland are in close contact with the firm and are working to try avert, if possible, any potential job losses.
The uncertainty the situation has created is obviously an unwelcome development for the staff at the company and the region. My primary concern is for the workers and families who could be directly affected, many of whom have worked with the company for many years. In the regrettable event that redundancies do result, the Government will make every State support available to those impacted in order to help them transition and find new employment opportunities.
I am asking the West Regional Enterprise Committee, on which the key agencies and local authorities are represented, to consider all scenarios in relation to thiscompany.
The situation at the company is particularly unfortunate given the wider economic difficulties that have been presented by COVID-19. My focus, since I became Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has been on supporting businesses and protecting jobs. We have also been working hard on the forthcoming Jobs Stimulus Package, which will include far-reaching measures to set us on the right course for the next five years and beyond. Our aim is to create new employment opportunities all over the country, including in County Galway.
My Department and its Agencies have also been working hard, over a sustained period, to support job creation in the regions. This has included setting ambitious targets to ensure that employment and investment are distributed as evenly as possible across the country. Last year, there were over 21,000 people employed in IDA-supported firms in Galway. This is almost double the number employed in 2010 (11,235). While the period ahead may prove more challenging, an important objective will remain securing new foreign direct investment for the County.
Wider enterprise efforts are also underway to generate new growth in Galway and the surrounding area. For example, regional stakeholders – including Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs and the Higher and Further Education Institutes – are working together on implementation of the Regional Enterprise Plan for the West. This is aimed at strengthening the environment for job creation in the region and Ballinasloe will also benefit from this.
Another important initiative in this context is the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, through which over €16.7m in funding for the West – over three competitive calls – has been approved for collaborative regional enterprise projects. The region has had particular recent success, with five Galway-based projects being awarded a total of €9.6m. These projects are currently being developed and their completion will enhance the attractiveness of the area for further investment and job creation.
Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Estimates for Public Services 2020 – Vote 32 – Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Revised)
Verona Murphy TD: My colleague, Deputy Denis Naughten, who is unavoidably detained today, requested that I ask the Tánaiste about the steps that are now being taken to secure jobs at Aptar in Ballinasloe. I heard the Tánaiste speak about this earlier, but Deputy Naughten is requesting that the Tánaiste consider bringing all State agencies and the two local authorities in Galway and Roscommon together to implement a co-ordinated strategy for the town and the surrounding communities. I understand that Deputy Naughten has written to the Tánaiste directly and he might furnish him with a response.
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
I know Deputy Naughten has a particular interest in the matter of Aptar and he has been in touch with my office directly, as has Senator Dolan. We do not yet know how many job losses there will be but IDA Ireland and my office will get involved to see what we might be able to do to protect as many of those jobs as we can and see what alternatives can be found, if at all possible.
From: Denis Naughten
Sent: 30 June 2020 07:49
Subject: Business Estimate
In the context of the debate on the Business Estimate in Dáil Éireann later today, I want to flag the need to take measures to support the Town of Ballinasloe following the decision by local company Aptar is to review its operation in the town over the coming weeks.
This announcement is causing huge anxiety locally, not just for the employees but also the local suppliers to the company, and we now need to see immediate action on the ground.
I am requesting that you would bring together all the State agencies, and the two Local Authorities in Galway and Roscommon, to implement a co-ordinated strategy for the town and the surrounding communities.
What is hugely frustrating is the fact that Ballinasloe always seems to be just one positive decision away from unlocking its full potential. I believe what is now needed is a very focused co-ordination group of all the State bodies to come together over the next 4 weeks not just to work with the management of Aptar but to explore the full potential of the St. Brigid’s Hospital campus.
We already have private investors looking at the old hospital complex itself based on the work that I did with Ballinasloe Area Community Development Ltd. (BACD) on ‘Reimagining St. Brigid’s’ but there is far greater potential on the campus with the rail, motorway, broadband, gas, industrial land, health and water infrastructure now available to the town.
I very much doubt there is a town in Ireland with infrastructure on a par with Ballinasloe and a focused review of the town by all the State agencies over a very tight time period could yield new employment opportunities as well as securing the existing jobs.
The town also has huge potential to become the recreational tourism crossroads of Ireland with the north south Beara Breffni way walking route which secured additional Government funding this week and the proposed Dublin Galway greenway intersecting in Ballinasloe.
What we need now is not handwringing but instead for everyone involved to roll up their sleeves to exploit the full potential of the area both in East Galway and South Roscommon and I hope that you can spearhead this with the establishment of such a co-ordination group.
Denis Naughten TD
Link to the reimagining st. brigids report:https://denisnaughten.ie/2018/07/06/reimagining-st-brigids-report/