POLITICIANS HAVE HIT out as a scheme that hoped to use the diaspora to bring jobs to Ireland looks set to be shelved.
Launched in March 2012, ‘Succeed in Ireland’ was an initiative that offered financial incentives to individuals who helped bring jobs to Ireland.
A group called Connect Ireland, set up by Taxback.com founder Terry Clune, was appointed to promote and deliver the initiative, which was managed by the IDA.
It had a target to create 5,000 jobs within five years. While Connect Ireland said that it created more than 2,000 jobs over three years, with more to come, the IDA said that it has only verified 527 jobs created under the scheme.
The contract for the scheme is due to officially end on Sunday. Ahead of its conclusion, the Oireachtas Jobs Committee questioned Richard Scannell, the head of investment at the Department of Jobs, as to why the scheme is being dropped.
Scannell said that it is not possible for Connect Ireland’s contract to be extended, and said that it was not intended for the scheme to “run forever”.
The original four-year contract between the IDA and Connect Ireland was due to expire in March 2016 but was extended to March 2017. However, the IDA has decided not to tender for a renewal of the programme beyond this date.
“The intention was not for the contract to run continually. When the IDA decided not to re-tender it was natural that it (Succeed in Ireland) would end,” Scannell said.
“The contract is coming to an end as per its terms. The minister and the department have great respect for the IDA and have no reason to second guess the IDA.”
The IDA has paid just over €2 million to Connect Ireland as a financial reward for the 527 jobs created that the state agency has verified. It also provided Connect Ireland with a further €150,000 for marketing support for the operation of the programme.
‘Connectors’ who helped create an Irish position under the scheme earned up to €1,500 per job created, up to a maximum of 100 jobs.
Asked why the IDA decided not to renew the scheme, Scannell said: “My understanding is that the (IDA) board took legal advice of the agency’s capacity to take a tender given that there was an ongoing legal dispute with Connect Ireland.”
He added: “I’m aware that the board and the IDA more generally would look at jobs achieved by Connect Ireland against targets.”
Asked how much it costs for both the IDA and Connect Ireland to ‘create’ a job, Scannell said: “The cost (for the IDA to create) a sustained job is in the region of €10,500 to the Exchequer.
“The figures that we have been provided say that the cost (for Connect Ireland) to create a job is in the region of €4,000.”
Several TDs, including Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Niall Collins, said that the Connect Ireland Scheme scheme was working and should be maintained.
“The IDA clearly don’t want this initiative to continue, but given what has been said about the costs, why doesn’t the department step in and look to keep this going?” he asked.
Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness also asked whether the department would look for a way to keep the programme going.
“If this was in France the answer would be yes, we will protect our jobs, but in Ireland we don’t seem to care,” he said.
Scannell said that the department is planning to conduct a review of the Connect Ireland programme and will evaluate its success.
The IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor were all invited to speak before the committee, however, none attended, something that angered many TDs and Senators.
“There is a chill factor around this. The IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the minister don’t appear and civil servants are left to take the rap. Key people are missing from the room and it is very worry,” said People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith.