Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Community Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has criticised Minister Joan Burton for her failure to fully understand what the rural social scheme is and its contribution to communities.
In reply to a Parliamentary Question, Minister Joan Burton once again confirmed that she is reviewing the Rural Social Scheme.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “This is of major concern to me as it would appear that Minister Burton has no feel or understanding for the Rural Social Scheme and its importance to farmers.
“Judging by her response to a parliamentary question I tabled, Minister Burton seems to think that farmers on the scheme are unemployed, where the reality is that they are employed on their farms, but those on the Rural Social Scheme do not have enough income from their farming to give them a living wage. This is the reason they engage in a small amount of community work outside of farming, which supplements their modest income.
“I am now calling on the Minister to change the basic rules of the scheme and to increase the number of places to 5,000 in 2015. I am also appealing to the new Minister of State for Rural Development, Anne Phelan, to impress on the Minister the importance of this scheme and its pivotal role in sustaining rural communities.”