Belfast Telegraph

Jobs summit 'not publicity stunt'

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has dismissed claims that a jobs summit with state agency chiefs was nothing more than a glitzy publicity stunt.

Mr Cowen said the gathering of top public servants charged with economic development, training and education had been arranged since before the summer break.

Nine cabinet ministers also attended the high-level meeting at Government Buildings.

Mr Cowen said it had given him a "full picture" of what the state agencies were doing and that he had set up a reporting mechanism to better co-ordinate the fight against joblessness.

The Taoiseach described Opposition claims that he had done nothing about the unemployment crisis until now as predictable, absurd and facile.

"I haven't discussed this in this way (before) - not with this particular group - but there have been some of this group and others from other agencies that have sat down with me on numerous occasions," he said.

Mr Cowen said he has also had presentations from Enterprise Ireland and the IDA at the Cabinet committee on economic renewal, which he said meets regularly.

Bosses from Bord Bia, County and City Managers Association, Enterprise Ireland, Fas, Failte Ireland, Forfas, Higher Education Authority, IDA, Sustainable Energy Authority, Science Foundation Ireland and Tourism Ireland were all summoned to the talks.

Mr Cowen said he wanted to send out a message that there were opportunities for people at home, although he understood some might want to take up posts abroad.

"There is a future for us here in this country, we are on the road to recovery," he said.

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