Fianna Fáil TD Michael Kitt raised a special debate in the Dáil this week on the damaging cuts to Community Employment (CE) Schemes across Co Galway and unnecessary restrictions on a range of other employment initiatives.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Kitt said cuts imposed by the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton have cast doubt of a number of CE Schemes in the West of Ireland.  In addition to this he said many local employment initiatives are currently prevented from carrying out valuable community work due to needless rules and restrictions.
“In the past, if a community wished to prioritise a particular project such as building a wall, a meeting room or a group water scheme, the community employment schemes provided some assistance. For example the extension or development of a graveyard would have been regarded as a local project.  However this does not seem to be the case now,” said Deputy Kitt.
“One regulation states that community employment schemes may not work on graveyard projects.  I refer in particular to works required on Killyon graveyard in Newbridge Co Galway, near where I live.  It was not possible to complete the work on that scheme because it was decided it was not technically a community project.  This restriction makes absolutely no sense.  The Department should allow works such this to be completed under a community employment scheme.  I know this is what the people of Newbridge and Killyon would like to see happen.
“There are many examples of community work that should be permitted in Co Galway and across the country, but there seems to be no consistency in the rules.  It is very unfair that two neighbours may be working on two different schemes but they are treated differently.  They are both trying their best to work for the good of the community.
“The value of CE Schemes and other employment initiatives in tackling long-term unemployment cannot be underestimated.  But we need more places to allow people to re-train, up-skill and get back into the workforce.  There are fears that CE Schemes may be cut again in the upcoming budget.  This would be a retrograde step with long-term damaging consequences,” said Deputy Kitt.