Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection to ensure that Community Employment Schemes are protected and not side-lined in any reorganisation of the initiatives.

It comes following an announcement from Minister Regina Doherty that she is to set up an interdepartmental group to examine the future of CE schemes.

Deputy Smith said, “Community Employment Schemes play a vital role, both for the people who participate in them and the communities in which the services are rolled out.  I am worried about the impact that any change to the current model could have.

“While I acknowledge that the Minister has said that she wishes to maintain the social inclusion places on CE schemes , which is of course welcome, I am concerned that she is seeking to remove these schemes from her Department and place them elsewhere, thereby relinquishing responsibility for them.

“Fine Gael has consistently placed an emphasis on the activation element of CE schemes, without fully acknowledging the importance of the social inclusion aspect of these programmes and the huge benefit to local communities.

“I would call on Minister Doherty to give a commitment that any reorganisation will protect the important values which these schemes promote.  It is also essential to ensure that whichever Department assumes responsibility for CE recognises that these programmes are an intrinsic part of communities the length and breadth of the country”.