Fianna Fáil Social Protection Spokesperson, Willie O’Dea has warned that generations of Irish children are at risk of growing up in homes where there is no tradition of paid employment.

Deputy O’Dea was commenting after receiving a parliamentary reply from the outgoing Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar which showed that in 2016 17.6% of relevant households were classed as jobless.

According to the Eurostat Labour Force Survey, 253,000 households in Ireland have no one engaged in paid employment.

“Such a high level of jobless households is a major issue for this country, and requires a targeted response from the Minister for Social Protection and his Department.

“While the national unemployment rate has fallen, and I have warned of this before, the various Government activities have focused on the low hanging fruit in terms of returning people to work rather than on tackling long term unemployment, and the high level of jobless households.

“These households are being marginalised and being left behind by this inaction. Not only is this terrible for them, and their children, but it detrimental for the country as a whole.

“This data also puts into context Minister Leo Varadkar’s bogus campaign against welfare cheats and demonstrates the extent to which his attention and energies have been elsewhere during his time as Minister for Social Protection.

“I have no doubt that whoever replaces Minister Varadkar in his Department will promise an Action Plan on Jobless Households in the weeks and months ahead, but this should have been a top priority during Minister Varadkar’s term in office, and not an afterthought,” concluded O’Dea.