Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea, has given a cautious welcome to the new employment and support service, Intreo, which was launched today by the Government.

Deputy O’Dea commented: “While I welcome the fact that a new integrated body has been established to help the unemployed get back into the workforce through various supports, there must be real substance to this new body.

“What we need to see are tangible benefits and results from Intreo.  We have had the Action Plan for Jobs; Pathways to Work and JobBridge. While all of these received very positive headlines, there has been nothing of real benefit to the economy.  Unemployment still lingers near 15%, higher than it was last year and there are also almost 9,000 more long-term unemployed than there were last year.

“Despite the fanfare of these schemes, there has been no effect on the unemployment numbers. The Government has yet to furnish us with details of the success or otherwise of these schemes. It seems to me that the Government is happy to announce these new ventures without following them up to ensure real results.

“People need to feel that the Government is actively working to get people back into employment rather than announcing empty scheme after empty scheme. These new initiatives are full of promise but at the other side of the coin, we see the Government cutting valuable local schemes like the Community Employment Scheme (CES). The Government needs to commit to providing an all-round service to the unemployed and the local communities, cutting the CES was just one example of where they give with one hand while take away with the other.

“Let’s hope there are not any hidden cuts to coincide with the launch of Intreo.”