We’re Getting Back To Work, Tanaiste Tells Chamber


The recent budget provided “something for everyone in the audience”, according to Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD.

She was guest speaker at the Mullingar Chamber of Commerce President’s Dinner in the Park Hotel, Mullingar, last Thursday evening.

Politicians and the town’s commercial and business elite gathered to hear the Labour Party leader outline the benefits the budget would bestow on them and the town.

Chamber Presedent  Brigid

Tanaiste Joan Burton and Chamber President Brigid Manley.

Among those present were Deputy Willie Penrose, whom the Tanaiste dubbed “the king of Ballynacargy” and who entered the Dail the same day as her, Deputies Robert Troy and Gabrielle McFadden, Cllr Paul Daly, former councillor Jim Bourke, and Eamon Gilfoyle, assistant principal of the Midlands North Division of the Department of Social Welfare.

Also in attendance was a delegation from China over for talks with a local company, TEG. They were welcomed by the Tanaiste, who said that she looked forward to a lot more business with China.

The government aims to secure at least 25 extra Foreign Direct Investments projects for the midlands over the next five years and to increase start-ups by 25%. Ms. Burton said that the budget was about getting people back to work. “We have to ensure that going to work pays” she remarked. The minister said that the Jobs Plus initiative had been enormously popular.   “Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing someone who was down in the dumps coming back to life when they get work” she said. She thanked the businesses and companies who had taken on staff under this initiative.

Jobs Plus subsidises wage costs for employers when they hire someone who has been employed for 12 months or more. Here, in Westmeath, unemployment fell by 9% in the last 12 months, according to Ms. Burton.

She spoke of the knock-on effect of the increase in the Christmas bonus. Several retailers, she claimed had reported a boost in spending last Christmas as a direct result of the pensioners’ bonuses as they are the best people to shop locally.

The Tanaiste spoke of the 2,200 new teachers that are to be taken on next year and the reduction in pupil-teacher ratios as primary and secondary level. The expansion of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, free GP care for children under 11 years and two weeks’ paid paternity leave are all designed to lessen the burden on families.

The minister’s speech referred to the €700 a year increase due to the higher minimum wage. She claimed that a middle-income family with two children will be €1,000 a year better off because of the reduction in the USC and increased Child Allowance. The self-employed, carers and retired couples will all also see an improvement in their annual income.

The minister had special advice for those having issues with their rents. She said that the Community Welfare Offices are now open daily at the newly refurbished Social Welfare Office, now Intreo at Blackhall, Mullingar, to talk to them. Some 4,500 cases have already been dealt with, she claimed.

“That gives us food for thought” responded the chamber president, Brigid Manley to the assembled crowd who were already replete from the hearty meal they had enjoyed. She thanked the 150 or so guests who attended.

Ms. Manley said Mullingar was well placed geographically and had a strong business network to ensure that it could cash in on the economic upturn.

The minister mingled with guests after the meal before heading off with her entourage to the heady business of government affairs.

To see all images from the Presidents Dinner please visit our gallery page HERE.



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