JOBS and banks toplined the agenda for Enda Kenny, when the Fine Gael leader visited Portlaoise last Friday at lunchtime.
“The banks are functioning, but functioning in reverse,” John Cummins told Mr Kenny at the LSM engineering plant at Ballymacken.
Mr Cummins oultined how LSM had to readjust its business strategy following the virtual collapse of the domestic market in 2009. The company is now export orientated and will experience a forecasted ten per cent growth this year. These markets include the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. LSM manufactures commercial waste disposal balers.
However, the banks are an ongoing problem. “They are very difficult to deal with, they are not in the real game,” stated Mr Cummins.
The cost of doing business in Ireland was also highlighted. Mr Cummins said that transport costs to Australia worked out at 40 euros per unit, whereas it would cost substantially more to transport to Ballina.
Flanked by local candidates Charlie Flanagan and John Moran, Mr Kenny commended LSM. “LSM belies the myth that you cannot have heavy manufacturing in Ireland, and export. “Small indigenuous firms will be the main drivers in job creation. The government, the banks and the watchdogs have let the country down. Companies such as LSM are the fundamental engine of the Irish economy.” Mr Kenny also outlined a four point plan to get capital flowing again.
Similar themes and concerns were the order of the day at the Laois Shopping Centre, particularly surrounding jobs and unemployment. Michelle O’Shea, who has been unemployed for the past two years, told the FG leader she was scared about the future.
“The future will be very different, but the future is the only place we have to live,” Mr Kenny told the crowd. “The going will be tough and we have a long difficult road ahead. We are not afraid to put our plan before the people, and we want to get people back working. We will open the books and show the extent of the problems here. We will lead by example and take a scalpel to Government spending.” He implored the candidates and activists to “carry our message to the towns and townlands of Laois.”
Charlie Flanagan said there was a mood for change in Portlaoise. “The only negative vibes we are getting are from the weather clouds.”