Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte says the Government must resolve a dispute which is causing serious delays to the Rural Social Scheme and depriving communities across the country without important services.

Budget 2017 provided for 500 places on the RSS, with 33 awarded to Galway Rural Development.  However, only 4 of these 33 places have materialised on the ground.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “The Rural Social Scheme has been extremely successful across Galway.  It provides low income families with additional means to supplement their household earnings, while at the same time delivering high quality services to local communities.  These range from care services to village enhancement, maintenance of community facilities such as football pitches, community halls and green spaces; and the development of walkways.

“Fianna Fáil secured additional places for the RSS through the Confidence & Supply Agreement, however there are serious issues between the Department of Social Protection and the Irish Local Development Network, which has led to a stalemate and now only 4 of the 33 places in Galway have been filled.

“I was always led to believe that there would be a new scheme under RSS for the Portumna-Woodford area but I’ve now been informed that this scheme is not going ahead as the Department failed to allocate funding for a supervisor.  This is unbelievably frustrating.  The Minister and his Department have been dragging their heels on this issue, and all the while rural villages like Woodford, Loosaun and Portumna Town are being left without a much needed community programme.

“Rural Ireland is always an afterthought for this Government, and the problems with the rollout of the RSS are a further example of the Minister’s disinterest.  There are rural families who depend on this scheme to stay afloat but it is simply not a priority for Fine Gael.  I am calling on Minister Varadkar to address the problems with the ILDN as a matter of urgency to ensure that the 33 RSS places are filled so that south Galway can finally have a functioning scheme in place”.