Reported in the News Letter on May 23, 1960: Not enough drive and enterprise in Ulster, says Education Minister

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An appeal to local businessmen and industrialists to make greater efforts to solve Ulster’s unemployment problem was made on Saturday [May 21] by the Minister of Education, Mr W M May.

Far too many people, he said, were looking to the Government to do everything. The responsibility of the Government was to provide conditions in which industry could prosper – not to provide the industry itself.

Speaking at the Belfast Junior Chamber of Commerce banquet in the Grand Central Hotel, Mr May declared: “I do not think there is sufficient enterprise and drive being devoted by our own people to make or find a solution of our unemployment problem.

“For years we have been looking to the new industries from outside to provide the additional jobs we need. Surely it is not too much to expect our own people to make a special effort to help?”

Nothing grieved the Government more than the fact that between seven and eight per cent of our insured people were unable to find employment. What the position would be now had it not been for the far-sighted and imaginative efforts of the Government, it would be hard to imagine, Mr May said.

By the inducements offered through their Aid to Industry Acts – Acts unprecedented anywhere else in the world – the Government had provided 45,000 jobs in new industries.

A tremendous amount had also been done to maintain and revitalise our older industries, many of which might otherwise have had to close down, but were now productive and prosperous.

The big problem of unemployment was in the provincial centres.

“Surely among our own business people, with their proved initiative and energy, there are men who can establish new industries in the provincial areas or extend their present enterprises to provide the employment so urgently needed,” Mr May asked.