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Clare economy ‘providing jobs at a ferocious rate’

THE Clare economy is in a very strong position and is “providing jobs at a ferocious rate”, according to a leading county council executive.

The Council’s Director of Economic Development Liam Conneally told this week’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District Councillors that many of the multinationals with bases in the county are doing particularly well.

At the meeting Mr Conneally, giving an update to the members, said despite the pandemic, Foreign Direct Investment in the Mid-West had been “very considerable” between 2019 and 2021.

“We are close to reaching full employment,” he added.

He said that across the board, in terms of foreign direct investment, indigenous businesses and micro businesses supported by the Council, there is very considerable job creation.

Mr Conneally said that sometimes the good work done by agencies of the State is overlooked, while he said the Council has been working very positively with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, while he said that the Clare Local Enterprise Office is helping on the micro enterprise side.

Councillor Pat McMahon said that at the moment a lot of businesses can’t function to full capacity because they aren’t able to get staff.

In terms of tourism, the Fianna Fáil councillor said that there is a need for more hotels in the county, given the potential in this area. He also stressed the potential of the Wild Atlantic Way, which he said can be a year round destination and provide a major opportunity for Clare.

He also praised the work done in promoting Ireland as a tourism destination, saying the sector is as large here as it is in Germany, which has a far larger population, highlighting the strength of the Ireland’s marketing of the sector.

Councillor Gerry Flynn criticised the state of aviation in Ireland at the moment, with the vast majority of passengers transiting through Dublin.

“We see the queues at Dublin Airport and there is no proper sharing out,” he said.

He said that Shannon and Cork could both benefit if there was a proper regional development strategy.

Councillor Michael Begley said that the “chaos” at Dublin Airport is not due to any unforeseen incident, but that the situation could actually have been foreseen.

“Not one thought appears to have been given to diverting some of the traffic to Cork or to Shannon.”

Speaking again, Mr Conneally said that while Foreign Direct Investment had not been affected by the pandemic, the tourism sector here had been hard hit.

He said that Shannon is a natural arrival point for the Wild Atlantic Way, while he said that the revenue for Clare from hospitality is “massive” while the sector is very fundamental to Clare.

Mr Conneally said that he would not comment on the governance or management of Shannon but he said it is “a fundamental piece of infrastructure for Clare and the Mid West”.

He also said that there had been a lot of expenditure at Shannon in recent times and an improvement in security systems there, which should help allow more traffic.

A new County Development Plan is currently being prepared and Mr Conneally said that over 700 submissions on it have been received from the public, something he said shows there has been successful communication around it. He said that typically a county of Clare’s size would receive slightly more than 100 submissions

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.