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Republic's job-creation plan branded a 'rehash'

The Irish government strongly defended its plan to create 300,000 jobs, after its ambitious proposals were criticised as reheated targets already published by state agencies.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen insisted his government would create 150,000 new direct jobs and 150,000 spin-off jobs in tourism, manufacturing and trading services over the next five years.

But 62,000 of the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) jobs and 60,000 of the Enterprise Ireland jobs were previously announced. In all, at least 120,000 of the 150,000 jobs outlined in the five-year action plan were announced already by the two employment agencies and Tourism Ireland.

Opposition parties claimed the "new" action plan was a "repackaging", "reheating" and "rehashing" of old jobs plans.

But the Irish government's plan does mark the first time that all jobs targets have been integrated into one single and focused policy document. And government sources insisted the plan to attract an extra 780 IDA investments and grow indigenous exports by 33% by 2015 was new.

"It does not replace any specific jobs strategy, but rather builds on existing plans such as the capital review plan announced earlier this summer which creates 270,000 jobs," an Enterprise department spokesman said.

Publication of the action plan comes as the government starts a new Dail term today and braces itself for new Live Register unemployment figures and another opinion poll later in the week.

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The numbers on the Live Register have climbed to a record 460,000, but are expected to fall today because of students returning to schools and colleges.

On the eve of those much- anticipated figures, Fine Gael claimed the Government's "new" action plan to get people off the dole contains no new funding and no new policies, while Labour said it was high on targets and low on specifics.

In the IDA's case, they will now have to boost a 62,000 jobs target to 75,000 jobs, and will be given an extra year.

Ireland, he said, is an excellent exporter and must grow its share in the world markets.

"Even in 2009, our worst year, we sold €150bn into these markets and I think it's important we recognise we have a good base," Mr Cowen said.