Jobs minister can leave passport at home for first trip

The Ministry of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation carries with it the dividend of plenty of foreign travel on behalf of the Government.

No surprising, then, that when new incumbent Mary Mitchell O’Connor got word of a trade mission from the IDA and Enterprise Ireland — just days in the job — she reached for her passport.

She admitted yesterday: “When I was told about a trade mission I thought I would be going off to some exotic destination.”

However, no passport was required for Limerick’s Raheen Industrial Park, where Ms Mitchell O’Connor made her ribbon-cutting debut in a large warehouse.

On alighting from her black Audi at the Exertis facility, she proclaimed: “I am the shining new minister.”

The shining new minister said that, whatever about foreign trips, she is going to keep her feet firmly on home territory, and travelling and working in the regions will be a key part of her job.

“This trade mission to Limerick is our first trade mission in Ireland and we will be continuing to do this,” she said.

“It is really important. We have the regional action plan. I won’t be sitting in an office in Dublin. I’m a country girl. I understand how important it is for jobs in the regions. I am a mother myself and I know you want your kids to have jobs and I’ll be out there to make sure that happens.”

Ribbon cut, she was shown around the 100,000sq ft Exertis facility, which stores goods for the biopharma industry. Different locations in the building, which will employ 20 people and cost €2m to develop, have controlled temperatures varying from 17C to 25C, depending on the goods stored.

Asked about the controversy over the O’Higgins inquiry, Ms Mitchell O’Connor kept to the party line.

“I think the way we are managing it now is that it has been handed over to the policing authority,” she said.

“The commissioner will meet the Policing Authority and I think that’s where it’s at. So let’s leave it at that. The Taoiseach has said he has 100% confidence in the [Garda] commissioner and I think to be fair to her, she should be given a chance to meet the policing authority.”

Asked if she fully supported the commissioner, she replied: “Yes I do. Yes.”

On the impending closure of Roche in Clarecastle, Ms Mitchell O’Connor said her heart is with those who will lose their jobs.

“We are hoping that the IDA will get out there,” she said. “They will engage again. Roche had been working with another company with a view to bringing in that company with a view to a takeover. That has failed. But the IDA are back on track and we will do everything to get it across the line.”


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