Brian O'Shea

Brian O

Following a staggering 55 per cent year-on-year increase in the city’s live register, with Dungarvan showing a 50 per cent jump in those signing-on, local Labour Party TD Brian O’Shea has called for the appointment of a special Director of Employment for Waterford and the southeast region.
Last month there were 8,078 people unemployed in the city, with a further 1,359 signing on in Dungarvan – a total of 9,347. In October 2007, the figures were 5,206 in Waterford and 906 in Dungarvan (6,112 combined).
“This increase is unprecedented in my experience and calls for extraordinary measures,” says the Tramore Deputy, who chaired the party’s national conference in Kilkenny last weekend.
Citing the way the crisis at Waterford Crystal have been handled by Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, he has no confidence in the Government’s ability to stem the “avalanche of redundancies, closures and cut-backs.”
“The inaction and apparent lack of engagement with [Waterford Crystal] which we have seen is not acceptable. Groups of people are leaving Kilbarry for the last time each Friday while the Government appears to have no interest in making a real attempt to minimise the job losses there.”
As the haemorrhage of jobs in his constituency continues, Mr O’Shea says: “While we have some world-class healthcare and pharmaceutical companies located in Waterford and the southeast, we need to concentrate on industry ‘clustering’… The region has not established a ‘speciality’ in any particular sector and I believe we must do this if we are to attract the kind of investment which will begin to reverse the current disastrous increase in unemployment.”
Stressing that the region and its capital “are faced with the greatest threat to its economic well-being for many, many decades”, the Labour Chairman says a priority must be to “have the necessary infrastructure in place to allow us to move towards a recovery.” And that, he insisted, has to include a university in Waterford.
In the Crystal context, the Tánaiste answered questions he posed on what’s being done to alleviate the drastic lay-offs planned by pointing to an open evening for workers attended by the VEC, WIT and FAS last month. An employment group organised by FAS and Waterford Chamber is co-ordinating responses from recruiting employers.
A local Jobs Fair is being planned by FAS for early next year which will target employers recruiting in the area. The agency also intends to provide a range of short technical skills updating courses.