Donegal Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has called on the Government to immediately reverse the proposed cuts to Community Employment Schemes. Senator Ó Domhnaill was speaking at a meeting in Ballybofey yesterday, organised by SIPTU trade union and attended by community groups and participants in local CE schemes.
“The Fine Gael/Labour Government is cutting €41.5m from the budget for Community Employment (CE) schemes. This will have a devastating impact on services in Donegal and across the country and will significantly impede efforts to tackle long-term unemployment in the North West region.
“From next month the Government will cut the grants for each participant in CE programmes by €1,000 or 66%. In addition to this, new guidelines are being introduced so that new CE payment recipients can only collect a single Social Welfare payment. For example, those currently in receipt of the One Parent Family payment will no longer be entitled to this if they are also in receipt of CE payments.
“Groups and participants involved in the CE Programmes carry out exceptional work across County Donegal, including work with Tidy Towns Groups, Community Centres, GAA Clubs, and other Community based organisations. It is a win-win situation for all and I cannot understand how Fine Gael and Labour can justify such enormous cuts to what is such a successful scheme.
“In the Fianna Fáil pre-budget submission we proposed that there would be an additional 20,000 places made available on CE schemes. Far from discouraging the long-term unemployed to get involved in this programme, we made the programme more accessible to help those out of work to get back to the workplace.
“Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD has indicated that she will “review” this budget decision, but the Taoiseach has indicated that any review cannot result in a reversal of the cuts announced for next year. This is unacceptable and I am appealing to the Government Oireachtas members in Donegal to lobby for a reversal of these damaging cutbacks.”