Updated: 29/09/17 : 05:47:00
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Sligo jobs shortfall confirmed by Taoiseach

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

SLIGO JOBS grew at only a third of the rate in neighbouring Leitrim over the past five years.

The county was the worst in the 'border' region for jobs growth from 2011 to 2016.

Some counties in this region did SIX times better than Sligo, TDs learned this week.

The info was supplied by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday afternoon in the Dail.

Local TD Tony McLoughlin was told that the Leitrim jobs grew at a rate of six percent in the five year period 2011 to 2016.

But Sligo only benefitted from a jobs growth of just two percent in the same period.

Different Pace

Said the Taoiseach: ''It is very encouraging that we have seen a fall in unemployment.'' 

There had been ''an increase in the number of jobs in every county in the past couple of years,'' he continued.

''Obviously It is happening at a different pace in Sligo,'' the Taoiseach confirmed.

Added the Taoiseach: ''Job creation was only at approximately 2% between 2011 and 2016, which is a much lower rate than in other places.

''Leitrim did a little bit better at about 6%. Some Border areas saw significant increases in employment, however. 

''For example, it was 12% in Cavan, 11% in Monaghan and 10% in Donegal. Even within the Border region, one sees considerable variation.

Tore Strips

The issue of new jobs in Sligo -- or the lack of them -- spilled into the open at a meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party in 2016.

Deputy McLoughlin had an angry row with former Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor this time last year over how poorly Sligo was doing on job creation.

The Irish Examiner reported at the time that Deputy McLoughlin ''tore strips'' off Minister O'Connor over the jobs issue.

The Minister later defended her overall performance in an interview with newspaper.See link (i) below.

Slowest Level

In the Dail earlier this week Deputy McLoughlin sought some 'hard' stats on jobs in this region.

He was speaking in a debate on new legislation which might come before the Dail.

Said Deputy McLoughlin: ''Special consideration is given in the programme for Government to the creation of new jobs in rural areas.

''Is the Taoiseach aware that the Border region, which includes my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim and south Donegal, has unfortunately witnessed the slowest level of job growth of any region? 

''Can he advise the House of the efforts the Government is making to rebalance job creation growth,'' asked the Sligo TD.

'Brexit,' Sterling

Deputy McLoughlin said he sought the info ''in particular in the face of Brexit and the weakening of sterling which has already resulted in job losses in my region.''

In the course of his detailed reply the Taoiseach explained what he saw as the key to the Government's efforts in improving the environment for job creation.

This included the implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs; ''this involves several different measures.''

Supporting business to create jobs, increasing the budget for local enterprise offices, and providing a better infrastructure to all parts of the country were part of the plan said the Taoiseach.

On the need for ''better infrastructure'' the Taoiseach said ''Not least the north west and Border areas, in terms of road and broadband.''

Last summer, the Taoiseach pinpointed the same infrastructure deficiency when speaking during the series of hustings in the Fine Gael leadership contest.

In particular, Taoiseach Varadkar expressed support then for a motorway-standard road between Mullingar and Sligo. See link (ii) below.