In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy applauds the efforts by many to rejuvenate the Carlow Sugar Factory site and comments on last week’s ‘confidence motion’ for the Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 25 January 2011.

I wholeheartedly welcome any initiative to stimulate industry and employment in Carlow Town. I salute a determined effort by Councillor John Cassin, to rejuvenate the appalling derelict site of the redundant once thriving Carlow Sugar Factory. It is an appalling tragedy that this vibrant local industry was ever lost. I have like many others vivid memories of the “Beet Campaign.” Hundreds of Carlow families have an appreciation, of the significant contribution this industry played to our local economy. It is an awful sad reality driving by the Sugar factory, Braun and Lapple some of the counties best employers now empty and shut down. The Social Welfare Department on Kennedy Avenue, Carlow Town, tells the story of lengthening dole queues. Well educated, healthy young people not being given the opportunity of work.

Local industry is essential in order to tackle the horror of unemployment. It certainly is an absolute disgrace that the Sugar Factory in Carlow was ever closed. In a time of plenty so many were blinded by the false prophets of banking and development in the name of “Progress” The beginning of the sugar manufacturing industry in Ireland was motivated to produce employment and to engage with local agriculture. Many of our young, talented and enthusiastic graduates see no future here in Ireland. It must be a fundamental project of our new Government to stimulate local Industry. Carlow County has a proud tradition of vibrant local industry. For generations such industries provided opportunity for employment. Surely this is not beyond the realm of the possible for this highly educated and skilled present generation. There are new shoots of local industries emerging.

“Netwatch” embraces our technological age. Ironically situated across from the now derelict sugar factory site, this Hi-Tec, Audio- Visual, Security Company, is proving that local people can continue to offer real employment to our highly skilled graduates.

Recently I found it very difficult to connect with Fianna Fail’s “confidence motion” regarding our Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. The image of elderly men surrounding the parties Chief-Whip, declaring confidence in him, after the vote in Leinster House, was disturbing. One of whom, the Leader of the Seanad Donie Cassidy, recently lamented on how difficult it is to live on €80,000 per anum. (How dare he, when over 400,000 people recently took an €8 cut on a tiny social welfare allowance)

Confidence is something that is seriously lacking in the heart of the Irish People at this time. It is the function of any good leader to build confidence. Despite the economic mess we find ourselves in, with confidence and enthusiasm we all can build renewed opportunity and real progress. Many good people are struggling to be confident when it comes to the political process in our Country. There is an earnest desire for integrity, quality and leadership in Ireland at this time. Crisis moments are also hopeful opportunities. The coming weeks are very important in building confidence as we discern our future direction regarding a new government. I pray that the spirit of God which is always plentiful, will pour fresh opportunity to the unemployed and all who have no confidence at this time.