Good afternoon, everyone.
I am absolutely delighted to be here today at this special event to mark Neueda’s new EU presence here in Athlone, which will result in over 200 new jobs over the next four years.
Let me start by saying you’re very welcome and we’re very pleased to have you here!
It’s fantastic to see companies like yours choosing to invest in the Midlands region, which has so much to offer in terms of workforce, connectivity and lifestyle.
Your investment is a massive vote of confidence in the region, and I have no doubt that you will be very happy here.
These high skilled, high quality, knowledge-based jobs are exactly what we, in Government, are seeking to attract to Ireland.
As you probably know, Ireland is now a major player - and a very attractive location - for global telecommunications and financial service companies from all over the world.
And, I can assure you that the Government is firmly committed to maintaining an attractive business environment for companies like yours.
Initiatives have been taken to improve our competitiveness across a wide range of issues.
We provide a predictable legal and regulatory framework, which incoming companies greatly value, and our reputation as a centre of software excellence is unrivalled in Europe.
We are home to over 900 software companies, including both multinational and indigenous firms, employing over 24,000 people.
We have also invested heavily in skills for companies like yours.
As I understand, it wasn’t only the talent and good quality transport infrastructure that attracted you here to Athlone – it was also the presence of commercially-focused third level education bodies.
With 40% of the population under the age of 29, Ireland places a very heavy emphasis on education, and this has been absolutely key in terms of inward investment.
We are absolutely focused on ensuring we produce high-quality graduates with the correct skillsets to meet the needs of 21st century business.
We have put a particular focus on IT and software in recent times.
We now have an increased output of graduates in these areas, as well as world-class research facilities.
Also, where employers are unable to fill critical high-skilled vacancies easily, we have a flexible Employment Permit system, which is operated through my Department.
I thought you might be interested to hear about how our economy is performing at the moment.
Well, I am delighted to say that the news is very positive.
The most recently published figures are very strong, showing that the Irish economy grew by 7.8 per cent in GDP and by 6.6 per cent in GNP in 2017.
This confirms that Ireland was the fastest growing economy in the European Union last year.
Importantly, the growth is broad-based with positive contributions from both the domestic and external sectors.
Indeed, we have now had several years of sustained economic and employment growth, and there are now more people at work than ever before.
We now have 2 and a quarter million people in work in Ireland and unemployment was at 5.1 per cent in June.
The Government is committed to ensuring these positive trends continue, by safeguarding the gains in competitiveness.
But, getting back to today, I would like to thank you for your commitment to Ireland.
I am sure your investment here will be very beneficial - both to your company and to Ireland Inc. in the years ahead.
Before I finish, I would like to pay tribute to Mary Buckley and the team at IDA Ireland.
We are very proud of our State Agency, who do sterling work to encourage companies like yours to come to Ireland.
But the best thing about them is that they don’t abandon you once you’ve arrived.
So, if you encounter any issues in the times ahead, please don’t hesitate to contact them – they will always be there to help.
I wish you every success with this exciting new investment.
You’re very welcome here, and I look forward to tracking your progress in the years to come.
They say that “quality is the best business plan”, and I am confident that you will find the quality you need here in Athlone!
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.
If you would like more information about this topic, please call DBEI Press Office at (01) 6312200, or email email@example.com.