BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Speech by the Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny T.D. at the inauguration of the building of the Beaufort Laboratory, Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork on 11th July 2013

 

I'm delighted to be here in Cork for the inauguration of the Beaufort Laboratory and to 'turn the sod' for what will be an excellent new facility.

I was here around 20 months ago to launch the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC), and I am delighted to see how far your vision for a world-class, maritime centre, has come since then.

My warm congratulations to everyone involved in this magnificent venture.

 

Research and Innovation
As you know, investment in science, technology and innovation is a key priority for this Government.

This investment, these sectors, are critical to Ireland's current and future development.

Scientific excellence is vital if we are to attract and grow those all-important jobs...and through that bring life, opportunity, to communities, not just here in Cork but in other areas of our country.    

So we have identified 14 areas where we intend to focus our publicly-supported research and development.

One of which is Marine Renewable Energy.

We've picked those areas on the basis of the existing strengths of the public-research base and those most likely to deliver economic benefits.

I'm delighted that Beaufort researchers have been chosen to lead a new Science Foundation Ireland project in marine renewable energy.

There'll be additional funding coming from industry.

Ireland's Ocean Resources
We know very well that Ireland has not been to the fore in maximising the potential of our ocean resources.

So last Summer we published Harnessing our Ocean Wealth.  

 

 

Through this initiative we're determined to use our ocean resources to help drive our economic recovery and make sure we achieve the kind of sustainable growth our people need and deserve.  

In Harnessing our Ocean Wealth we have two targets:

We want to exceed €6.4 billion a year in turnover from our maritime sectors by 2020

And want to double their contribution to 2.4% of GDP a year by 2030.

In Europe, the Blue Growth initiative, launched in Galway in May, has been an important priority for the Irish Presidency.

 This is particularly so, in terms of developing an Action Plan for the Marine Strategy for the Atlantic area.

Blue Growth brings together our Atlantic partners, the EU institutions and the Atlantic Member States, so that together we can drive the Blue Economy in the Atlantic States of the EU.

And crucially, so that we can create sustainable growth in our coastal regions.

It's not news to any of us here today that Ireland has some of the very best ocean-energy resources in Europe or indeed that we have such potential to become an international leader in research, development and innovation for ocean energy.

The Government has done enormous work right across the departments to make sure we realise the benefits of this sector so vital for our economy, now and in the longer term.  

As you know, though ocean-energy technology continues to develop, it's not yet at the commercial stage.

Which is why early-stage support for the sector, for example, through getting in behind initiatives such as the Beaufort Laboratory, is so important.

It's the way we lay the foundations for future innovation and the kind of commercial developments that bring profits, opportunities and real strength and renewal and vitality to our coastal communities.

 And of course.... the jobs we all depend on.... for the health of our economy and our lives day to day.

Economy
Since we took office two years ago, getting Ireland back to work has been a government priority.

Moreover, we based our successful EU Presidency, just concluded, on making tangible progress in the crucial areas of Stability, Jobs and Growth.
I'm glad to say we've made steady progress in getting Ireland on the road to recovery.

Despite a slowdown in Europe, we continue to have a strong current-account surplus in our balance of payments.

The Exchequer figures for the first six months of the year are in line with expectations.

There's been stabilisation in the labour market.

Yes - the number of people out of work remains unacceptably high.

But the unemployment rate has begun to drop. The private sector is now creating 2,000 jobs a month.

Competitiveness has improved significantly, with prices fallen back to 2002 levels.
It's my ambition to making Ireland the best small country in the world for business.

Key to achieving that is our annual Action Plan for Jobs which takes a whole-of-government approach to dismantling the barriers to business and job creation

This year we're focusing on areas such as ICT skills and energy efficiency.

Conclusion
Both very important to your work here and all the businesses across the harbour and indeed the country.  

I have no doubt there will be excellent work done here.

This initiative clearly demonstrates the ability of our public institutions to work together in pursuit of common goals and scientific excellence.
It will greatly enhance the reputation of Cork, and indeed Ireland, as a centre of innovation and high quality research.

I congratulate everybody involved.

And I wish you well in this exciting new chapter for the Beaufort Laboratory.

ENDS.