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WATCH: Senator calls for 'radical policy programme' to tackle Limerick employment 'blackspots'

SINN Fein Senator Paul Gavan has called for a new suite of targetted actions after a report revealed eight in 10 of Ireland's employment blackspots are in Limerick.

This week, he raised the issue with Minister Josepha Madigan, who was deputising for Robert Troy, the Minister of State for Employment, in the Upper House.

"The fact that eight out of 10 of the worst unemployment blackspots in the state are in Limerick City is a damning indictment on the political establishment who have run our city both locally and nationally over the past two decades. This is their legacy. We see unemployment running at anywhere between 39% and 57% across these eight electoral areas of our city. There needs to be urgent political action from this government and I am calling for that action to happen without delay," he said.

Mr Gavan held aloft a copy of the front page of Monday's Limerick Leader during the commencement sitting, which featured the story.

"We need policies that bring back local jobs and local opportunities. Sinn Féin have been calling for a programme of Community Wealth Building across the Island. This promotes growing local jobs and local suppliers so that opportunities stay in the community," he said, "Community Wealth Building has been proven to work in other countries. In Limerick, it will work where local anchor institutions, like University Hospital Limerick, Limerick City and County Council, and  the University of Limerick align  procurement policies to develop local supply chains, with a focus on low carbon footprint, trade union recognition and a Living Wage. This would mean more good local jobs for Limerick people."

Ms Madigan acknowledged the report is "particularly worrying" for Limerick.

She added: "I heard what the Senator said about the northside of Limerick and I will convey that to the Minister of State, Deputy Troy. I was struck by what he said about particular black spots and unemployment in areas ranging from 58% to 39%. Those are quite stark figures and that is something we need to tackle. The Senator acknowledged IDA Ireland does considerable good work in the area and much good work is being done. The targeted investment the Senator referenced must be particularly ramped up for these regions and for the areas within the regions that are suffering more than anything else. Community outreach is integral to that and collaboration from a grassroots level up is needed to motivate people through the adoption of a multipronged approach to get people back into the work environment. We had 15% unemployment across the country during the recession but we managed to bring that down again. That is something we can do again in the Limerick region."

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