The Gaeltacht is beating its targets for job creation

Employment in its native companies hits a seven-year high...

Employment in Gaeltacht companies has reached its highest level in seven years, according to Údarás na Gaeltacht.

The authority handling the development of the Irish-speaking region reports that a total of 559 new, full-time jobs were created last year, as it continues to ease past its annual employment creation targets. 

Some 36 new businesses were established, taking on a total of 100 staff. The rest of the positions came at existing companies, with one-quarter of Gaeltacht firms increasing their workforce in 2016. Údarás clients employed a total of 7,963 people at the end of the year.

The majority of the job approvals were for projects in Galway and Donegal. Food, services, medical devices and niche manufacturing sectors showed the most growth.

Údarás head office, Galway

According to the authority, Údarás client companies spend over €425 million directly into the Irish economy.

They have achieved sales of over €900m for two consecutive years. Enterprise Director Micheál O' Heanaigh said that nearly 70% of all sales are now exports and, despite the prospect of Brexit, the future looks bright:

"We always have challenges to face and there's no doubt that Brexit is going to be a consideration for our companies.

"Some 24% of our export figure goes to the UK at the moment. But we'll be working in close cooperation with other agencies such as EI and with our client companies to ensure that we can mitigate against the worst effects."

This is the final year of the Údarás na Gaeltacht Strategic Plan for 2014–17, with new approved projects already set to create 533 jobs with roughly €38m investment. 

Its plan to 2020 will see it aim to build on the recovery the Gaeltacht has enjoyed in recent times.

Sean Kyne, Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, commented:

“I welcome the positive employment figures shown once again by An tÚdarás this year and believe it to be a clear indicator of the Government’s commitment to drive forward matters of development and employment in regional and rural areas.

"Údarás na Gaeltachta will play a central role in implementing the Action Plan for Rural Ireland.

"It is encouraging to see that employment levels remain stable in the Gaeltacht areas and that the number of new businesses established there continues to grow, with 36 new companies starting out in 2016, creating a total of 100 new jobs by the end of the year.

"By working in cooperation with my Department, it is expected that this could be increased further over the coming years in the context of the 20-year strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

"I am particularly pleased with the 559 new full-time positions created in client companies of Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2016 and the 7,963 positions held at years end in companies supported by An tÚdarás, 7,348 of which were full-time and 615 of which were part-time.

“Of particular delight this year also was the completion and official opening of Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh, Conamara as one of the permanent reminders of the 1916 Centenary Celebrations.

"In this regard, Údarás na Gaeltacht deserve specific praise and gratitude for overseeing the development of this major project.’"