The ex-taoiseach, ex-IDA CEO and ex-junior enterprise minister were among those taking credit for almost 90 bogus jobs purportedly created by a now-scrapped government initiative that ended in controversy.
Enda Kenny, Martin Shanahan and Damien English announced the county Meath jobs in 2014 and 2015 under the defunct Succeed in Ireland scheme.
These 89 jobs, which were to be based in Kells, received extensive media coverage when they were announced in 2014 and 2015. Only 19 were actually delivered – but they didn’t last long. The state-subsidised jobs lasted for just more than a year before the business owner, a former Fine Gael election candidate, shut down operations.
Earlier this month The Ditch reported that Kenny had announced a separate 83 jobs in Cork and Dublin as part of the same programme. These jobs also failed to materialise.
The scheme that was to deliver these jobs is currently the subject of a legal dispute between the IDA and ConnectIreland, with the former seeking more than €1.2 million for jobs that were never created. The IDA tried to block the release of the number of jobs created by the scheme, arguing that publishing the figures would hurt the state.
‘Not a single one of the 50 jobs was created’
The first announcement came in November 2014 when the IDA said that US-based manufacturers MDS Global Technologies and SWG Inc. were to create 50 jobs at their new bases in Kells.
Former IDA CEO Martin Shanahan told the media at the launch that the “IDA has worked closely with ConnectIreland in winning this type of investment and will continue to do so”.
Shanahan was joined at the 50-job announcement by then junior enterprise minister Damien English, who claimed, “This is a great example of how government initiatives, private investors and local communities can all work together to win valuable new jobs for Ireland and, critically, for towns like Kells”.
MDS Global Technologies, which was to create 25 jobs, registered as a company in Ireland in December 2013. Four years later the company was dissolved having never employed anyone.
SWG Inc also failed to create any of the promised 25 jobs and hasn’t filed returns with the CRO since 2019.
Just a month later, in December 2014, Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton launched recycling company Clearpas, which was to operate just outside Kells in the Gibbonstown Gaeltacht area.
The company was run by former Fine Gael election candidate Padraig Shine and was to create 19 sustainable jobs under the same IDA initiative.
After just more than a year in business, Clearplas ceased operations and laid off its 19 employees. It had received over €200,000 in funding from Údarás na Gaeltachta, according to a 2016 report in the Irish Independent.
Launching Clearplas in December 2014, Enda Kenny said, “The value we place on every job created is why ConnectIreland’s success to date is to be celebrated.”
Months later, in March 2015, there was another announcement of bogus jobs.
Damien English again picked up media coverage for Deko Foods’ claim that it would create 20 jobs in Kells. He was joined by IDA COO Joanne Murphy at the launch in Kells Business Park.
“This adds to a growing number of companies who have chosen Meath to set up their business. This announcement is another ConnectIreland project that is being supported by the enterprise agencies and is a great example of how local communities can work to win valuable new jobs,” said English at the launch.
Despite claims at the time of the announcement that “recruitment is already underway for a number of junior positions”, Deko Foods didn’t create a single job and went out of business after just four years of trading.
ConnectIreland was only supposed to be paid where jobs lasted at least two years, according to the terms of its contract with the IDA.
Records released to The Ditch, which the IDA tried to block, show that ConnectIreland was paid €47,500 for supposedly helping to create 19 sustainable jobs at Clearpas – despite the company having traded for just more than a year before closing its operations.