Allan Shine, Kildare Chamber CEO
County Kildare Chamber is lobbying at the highest levels of Government to deliver a multi-million euro stimulus plan to boost businesses affected by the two week Covid-19 lockdown in Kildare, Offaly and Laois.
Chamber chief executive Allan Shine spent the weekend in talks with Government ministers as he has spelled out the devastating consequences of the hastily announced restrictions triggered by virus outbreaks at local meat plants.
Mr Shine has claimed the local lockdown will cause an ‘economic meltdown’ for Kildare as well as Laois and Offaly if financial support isn’t forthcoming.
He has lobbied for a targeted stimulus plan for Kildare with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath.
The Leader understands that proposals include an extension of the €350 wage subsidy for three months to allow eligible Kildare businesses to retain staff, as well as a further pause on bank repayments.
Mr Shine has also been in ongoing contact with local TDs including Minister of State for Agriculture, Martin Heydon. The Chamber CEO said: “The local lockdown will be devastating for local businesses especially in the tourism, hospitality and leisure industries, especially as August is a very busy month with families booking staycations and day trips before children go back to school.
“We need financial supports for these businesses so they will be ready to re-open and operate at full capacity again when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.”
County Kildare Chamber has a membership of 400 members who employ over 38,000 people across the county.
Mr Shine added: “Many of our members were in the process of restarting their businesses, re-employing people along with upskilling and reskilling the workforce to react to the economic environment we all face.”
Mr Shine described the local lockdown as ‘bizarre’ given the very low number of Covid-19 cases in the community outside of the meat plants in Kildare town and Naas.
He added: “There was absolutely no engagement or consultation from NPHET, the HSE or anyone in Government and you’re talking about a decision affecting hundreds of businesses and thousands of people being announced over the airwaves.”
The Chamber boss also said health officials should have seen the warning signs sooner.
“We need to ensure we exit this lockdown as quickly as possible. Public health is and will always be the number on focus but the economy must be a key focus also.”