Taking action to address economic difficulties and setting down a road-map for how Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon and Cavan can reverse the tide of emigration is at the heart of the ‘Play Your Part – Help Get Our People Home’ initiative being rolled out.
At a well attended meeting in the Longford Arms Hotel last Thursday, it was revealed that a group of the region’s business people, sports club members and community interest groups have joined forces in a bid to lure investment from abroad to set up in local communities under the Connect Ireland banner.
The initiative bids to try and slow down the trek of their young people abroad and return some recently departed emigrants from the US, Canada, Australia, and other far flung locations.
Opening the event, former Cathaoirleach of Leinster GAA Martin Skelly outlined that the aim of the initiative is to get people home from Canada, Australia and other corners of the world.
Mr Skelly said that it was fantastic to see so many companies with real job offers in attendance at the meeting. He added, “Play Your Part is seeking to do something for young people abroad who wished to return to a vibrant economy.”
Mr Skelly said that the question everyone in attendance had to ask was: “What can we do as the GAA family, sports people, clubs and communities to support and generate local economic activity?”
Gabriel D’Arcy, Managing Director of Bord na Móna, said that people had to stop giving out about the economic woes and take their destiny in their own hands.
He said that the economic corridor under the umbrella of the Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy project, is a group of people working to create employment in this region of Roscommon, Longford, Leitrim and Cavan.
The four GAA County Committees, the local authorities, Bord na Mona and Connect Ireland are all part of the network.
Mr D’Arcy said that the region has so much to offer particularly in the area of food, tourism. Arts and crafts, industry and light industry. He added, “The diverse range of local SMEs recruiting here demonstrates the wealth of skilled and talented people we have in the region”.
Hugh Morris, a Kells auctioneer, spoke of how he saw his referral under the Connect Ireland programme to a company called Mafic S.A. helped bring 70 jobs to his native Kells. He said that the initiative has the potential to bring people home and enhance local communities.
Michael McLoughlin of Connect Ireland said that the core strategy was for people to take action for themselves.
Mr McLoughlin said that most clubs are familiar with the phenomenon of losing members of their club to jobs abroad.
He went on to say that “Play Your Part – Help Get Our People Home” builds on these links to both pass on information on jobs that may currently exist in the region but also to identify the contacts club members are building up abroad. “Irish people have great networks of connections and the GAA Diaspora abroad is a rich source of potential connections just like Mafic.”
On the night nine companies hosted stands and had jobs available in sectors such as software, medical devices and services. Among the companies represented were Cora Systems, a software development company in Carrick-on-Shannon, Lakeland Dairies from Cavan, and Sasta Fitness, an entrepreneurial start-up led by Roscommon native and Franchise Person of the Year, Fiona Egan.
Following the presentation there was a particularly engaging panel discussion with Cavan’s Finbar Reilly, Leitrim’s Seamus Quinn, Roscommon’s Frankie Dolan and Longford’s Gerry Hagan.