Friday 9 May 2008

Mary Coughlan as Minister for Employment

As a native of Donegal I would like to congratulate Mary Coughlan in her appointment as Tánaiste. I would also hope that she succeeds better in her role as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment than she has at creating employment in her own constituency. She and her colleague, Pat the Cope Gallagher have been in power for much of the Celtic Tiger period, yet unemployment in Donegal remains well above the national average. In fact, the 2006 census records unemployment in Donegal as over 4 points higher than the average for the state. On closer inspection more worrying trends emerge. In Donegal between 1996 and 2006 employment in manufacturing fell from 6 points above the national average, at 22%, to about 2 points below the reduced national average of 13%. Another cause for concern is that employment in construction in Donegal, at 15% of the workforce, is significantly higher than the national average. It is well known now that the construction sector is shrinking rapidly. The consequences will be grave for a county with an already high unemployment rate. Minister Coughlan is not, of course, minister for South West Donegal, her role is national. But it would do no harm if she could dedicate some of her time to closing the gap between her home constituency and the rest of the country.

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