On Wednesday night 14th October I addressed the Dáil on Budget 2016:
This budget is designed to support the recovery, hard pressed families and begin future proofing the economy.
This budget is neither the hair shirt budget that some Economists have called for, nor is the silk shirt that the opposition seem to think we can afford, rather it is a prudent budget that will create jobs.
It will remove barriers to work and make work pay, grow the economy and keep the recovery going while reducing the current account deficit.
Business in Ireland has welcomed this budget. Danny McCoy of IBEC said “The budget is right for the economy at this time and signals a new phase of economic development. The crisis is behind us and we are planning ahead. The Government has taken on board the concerns of business, reduced tax and encouraged private investment.”
ISME and the SFA have also welcomed the Budget. The SFA Chairman, A J Noonan stated “This Budget is a strong endorsement by Government of the importance of entrepreneurship and small business in Ireland.”
But this is not just a budget for business and jobs, it is also a budget for our young families.
My constituency of Meath West has one of the highest concentrations of young families in the country, with a youth dependency ratio of over 38%.
You only have to walk around the streets of Navan, Trim or Enfield to see just how young our communities are. Our young population means we can look forward to a more hopeful future, but families cannot live on hope alone.
They need help now and this budget does just that.
Cutting USC, raising child benefit, and extending the free preschool scheme to accommodate all three to five year olds will benefit young families in Meath West and throughout the country.
These families endured a lot of the pain in the recession it is only right that they get some of the gain from the national recovery.
Talk to any parent on the doorsteps in Meath West – education and the future of our children is a major focus. This budget will reduce class sizes; it will recruit an additional 2,260 teachers.
This budget will deliver a better education to our children and will invest in career guidance. This will help our children chose the courses and the skills they need to get a good job and build a better future.
With this budget young school leavers will now have a lot more choice in their career paths.
We are investing an additional €10.5m to effectively double the number of Apprenticeship Schemes available in Ireland.
These 25 new Apprenticeship Schemes will cover areas such as
Transport and Logistics,
Tourism and Hospitality
and the bulk of these will be delivered in 2016.
We need to refocus the third level system to create a more enterprise responsive educational system; we need to provide the skills that students and industry require.
Future proofing the Economy is all about building skills at all levels including our pool of research skills.
Ireland’s future economic growth and prosperity will depend on our continued investment in science, technology and innovation.
This investment is all about developing:
A competitive knowledge based economy and society;
Driving innovation in enterprise;
Building human capital
And maximising the return on R&D investment for economic and social progress.
Investment in research and development is crucial for creating and maintaining high-value jobs.
In addition to the investment announced yesterday, my Department will be allocating an additional €29m specifically for investment in research and innovation to spend before the end of this year.
In addition to this, the overall 2016 capital investment will allow Enterprise Ireland to:
Support 100 Innovative High Potential start Up Companies in 2016 employing 2,000 people.
Issue six Competitive Start Fund calls with a target of financially supporting 85 innovative entrepreneurs.
Fund over 100 in-company R&D projects for companies that are valued in excess €100,000, and
Continue the development of Knowledge Transfer Ireland and the wider national Technology Transfer system to create 30 new spinout companies
For Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the 2016 allocation will:
Continue to fund the 12 SFI Research Centres, which represents an investment of €355m from the government and €190m from over 200 industry partners.
Train some 3000 researchers for key positions in Industry
Science Foundation Ireland will also undertake a recruitment campaign in partnership with the Irish Universities to attract world-class researchers.
I am pleased that Ireland’s participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) will continue to support a growing number of Irish companies in the rapidly expanding European and Global space markets. In this sector we will see:
A doubling of sales to over €80m
A rise in total employment to over 2,300, and
An expansion in the number of companies actively engaged with ESA to over 75
We are competing in an ever more competitive global environment. I am therefore pleased to report that work is almost complete on a new Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation.
It is now time for fresh strategic ideas to make research work to maximum effect for the country.
The vision for the new Strategy will be underpinned by 5 key goals:
an internationally competitive research system;
excellent research with relevance and impact for the economy and for society;
a renowned pool of talent in both academia and industry;
a joined-up research eco-system, responsive to emerging opportunities;
and a strong innovative enterprise base, growing employment, sales and exports.
We need to ensure that we have a world leading state-of-the-art research and innovation ecosystem in Ireland.
I am confident that the upcoming Strategy will provide us with the roadmap to deliver on this ambition for Ireland.
To conclude a Leas Ceann Comhairle,
This Budget charts a responsible, prudent path to fiscal stability, economic growth and opportunity.
The Budget marks a new stage in Ireland’s road to full recovery and a more sustainable future.
It will support that recovery and will begin to future proof the economy.
I commend this budget to the House and to the country.