Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O’Dea TD says that one year on, the Government has failed to implement a key proposal in the Programme for Government on the social enterprise sector. Fine Gael and Labour claimed an increased focus on the sector would provide thousands of community based jobs but no meaningful progress has been made in fulfilling this promise.
He commented: “In a report last year by Forfás, it was promised that an increased focus on the social enterprise sector would create thousands of jobs while providing essential services in local and rural communities. Unfortunately this is another broken promise by the government. In reality there has been no progress in creating jobs in this particular sector despite Minister Seán Sherlock being tasked with developing the sector.”
The Programme for Government stated that ‘The Government will promote the development of a vibrant and effective social enterprise sector. We will instruct agencies to view social enterprises as important stakeholders in rejuvenating local economies.’
“In reality we haven’t seen any genuine effort to live up to these promises. Three and a half years into government, not a single social enterprise job has been created as a result of government support or initiative,” Deputy O’Dea added.
“An Interdepartmental Group has been meeting for the past year but serious questions remain over just what it has achieved. Has any Budget been allocated to launch new or pilot projects? What are the plans for social enterprise following the government reshuffle?
“It’s all too clear that the government is ignoring community based projects that will deliver locally based employment, services and development.
“Social enterprise is a growing sector that can bring further job gains and deliver economic potential as part of Ireland’s economic recovery and growth for the future. This sector employs between 25,000 and 33,000 people in over 1,400 social enterprises in Ireland, with a total income of around €1.4 billion. Social enterprises, like other SMEs, have the benefit of being geographically spread throughout Ireland.
“Very often they employ those that are most marginalised and who find it most difficult to get jobs. The government has to get its act together and start delivering on its promises in this vital area,” Deputy O’Dea concluded.