Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has said today’s Live Register figures pose a very serious question for the Government regarding the number of long-term unemployed.

Deputy Calleary said: “More than 45% of those still signing on have been on the Live Register for a year or more.  This creates a major difficulty in helping them get new jobs in the economy.  It is the case that the number of long-term claimants is falling but it is falling at a far slower pace than those signing on for less than a year.

“We know that the longer a person is on the Live Register the harder it is for them to get back into the workplace.  This means the Government needs to provide more training places, more education and upskilling opportunities to help address this problem.

“The Government has announced that they will shortly be receiving €1bn in proceeds from the sale of Bord Gais.  We are told that half of this will go towards supporting job investments but as yet we have no indication as to what this will involve or whether it will be used to specifically tackle long-term unemployment.

“Fianna Fáil has proposed a number of solutions to help domestic businesses including increasing access to credit.  We are calling for a full state-backed Enterprise Bank.  This was a commitment in the Programme for Government but has not been delivered.  A new Enterprise Bank could be a permanent solution to the lending gap which exists in Irish banking and would lend to any company, regardless of sector or size, provided it can demonstrate its creditworthiness.

“Improving the business climate and tackling costs are extremely important but ensuring the people on the Live Register are best placed to take up new jobs in the economy is equally as important.  The Government cannot let thousands of people languish as long-term unemployed and out of the jobs market.”