‘Schemes provide a huge social dividend for participants and communities.’
Sligo News File
There is growing disquiet about government plans for the future of Rural Social Scheme, Community Employment and other local programmes.
This follows a Fianna Fail convened meeting in Leinster House where groups were said to be fearful that the government is “trying to force people on to its activation programme Jobpath, without giving any thought to the social benefits that schemes like the Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme or Tús provide to communities.”
Now, the party has announced that it is bringing forward a Bill to protect the programmes which junior spokesman on enterprise and jobs Eamon Scanlon says “play an important social inclusion role in communities, not only here in the North West, but right across the country.”
He said, “I know that here in Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon these schemes provide a huge social dividend, not only for the participants themselves but also to the communities in which they’re rolled out.
“The Rural Social Scheme is,” he said “an essential source of income for many small and low income farm families.” However, the party would like the current “extremely prohibitive”six-year participation rule removed for those over the age of 55.
He also noted that the Tús scheme is not being fully utilised and that as well the government wants to reduce the number of places available from 8,500 to 6,500, something which “cannot be allowed to happen.
He said, “Fianna Fáil is bringing forward a Bill to protect these important rural and social schemes by ensuring that people will be allowed to opt out of the Jobpath activation scheme if a place on a Community Employment Scheme, a Tús Scheme or a Rural Social Scheme becomes available.
“These schemes play an important social inclusion role in communities, not only here in the North West, but right across the country.
“We want to protect them and ensure that they remain viable into the future,” he added.
‘Once you’re in their grip it’s very difficult to get out in one piece.’
Sligo News File.
Chairman of the ICSA rural development committee Seamus Sherlock has said “revelations by Permanent TSB and AIB before the Oireachtas Finance Committee will serve only to deepen the fears of many farm families whose loans have been sold or may be sold to vulture funds.”
He said, “Nobody, it would appear, is safe from being swallowed up by vulture funds and once you’re in their grip it’s very difficult to get out in one piece.
“Unfortunately, this is particularly true for farm families.”
“We know that farms have been and will continue to be included in portfolio sales of loans by these banks. We also know that these loans are usually secured by land deeds exceeding the value of the loan, making the prospect of a quick sale by vulture funds more attractive than negotiating a reasonable solution with borrowers.”
The ICSA has been assisting many farmers who have found themselves in this position, he said.
“There is no compassion shown on the part of the vulture funds, only a reluctance to engage. With this reluctance to engage options become very limited, leaving farming families in a very ominous position.
“ICSA believes that a reasonable negotiated settlement should always be considered the best option for everyone involved.”
He added that his association will continue to press for more regulation of the processes by which these loans are sold off in the first place and managed thereafter.
“We cannot stand by while decent banking customers are being treated in such a dubious manner.”
TDs call for government action to relieve hardship owners suffering in trying to source fodder for livestock.
Sligo News File.
Local TDs are demanding Government action to ease what they say is the “huge hardship” farmers in Sligo-Leitrim are suffering as they try to source fodder for their livestock.
Eamon Scanlon told the Dail that owing to increases in the price of hay and silage a scheme introduced by the Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to subsidise the purchase of fodder has turned out to be of “no benefit to farmers at all.” Silage, he said, has soared by €12 while the price of hay has increased by €8 per bale.
Describing the situation as a “health issue” for many farmers, Scanlon said he was now calling for farmers to be “front-loaded by €1,000 to help them to survive and to feed
their families and their stock over the next month.”
He said the farmers will get the money eventually, “but it would make a lot of difference if they got it now.”
Tony McLoughlin said he and Scanlon had met with farmer representatives about the problem, particularly for farmers in disadvantaged areas.
“It is important that we make provisions for the west of Ireland as there are huge hardships in the constituency we represent,” he said.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney the matter was primarily one for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. He brought in a fodder transport scheme to respond to the very
“There is enough fodder in Ireland,” he said, “it is about moving it around and getting it to the farms which need it, and that is why transport costs were the focus.
“If farmers are in extreme circumstances and there are animal welfare consequences of a lack of availability of fodder, they should contact the Department directly. They will
get direct help immediately for animal welfare issues linked to fodder.
Scanlon said, “Some farmers are going hungry to feed their animals.”
Will the people thwart Government drive for baby killing on demand?
Sligo News File.
The Pope is to visit Ireland in August but will the occasion be blighted by a referendum result where the country has just voted for the legalisation of baby killing on demand?
It’s apparent that both Government and pro abortion lobbies are going out on a limb to get the referendum out of the way ahead of the papal visit. Far from the process being rushed, as claimed, to enable the student population to vote, the real concern many feel is that a date for the referendum closer to the papal visit would defeat what abortion proponents hope will be overwhelming public support for the repeal of the child protecting Eighth Amendment.
The last few weeks in particular has witnessed a tidal wave of attacks on the Eigth Amendment, and, too, in places strong condemnation of the electorate, mostly women, who, back in 1993, voted en masse to give the present full constitutional protection to both the mother and child.
Of the more than 1,265,000 who turned out for the Referendum in September of that year, nearly 70% decided in favour of the inclusion of what is now the Eighth Amendment in the constitution – double the number of those who voted against.
Today, it is widely acknowledged that the wisdom of the people in 1983 has saved the live of countless thousands of Irish children whose lives might otherwise have been extinguished in abortion chambers of death.
Ireland meanwhile has also gone on to become one of the safest places on the planet to have a baby.
Subsequent provisions have allowed women, if they felt so inclined, to travel for abortions abroad. However, official figures show that the number travelling from the State to the UK has been falling steadily, even during a period of time much longer than abortion pills have been easily and illegally available online.
What isn’t entirely clear is the reason why thousands of women still travel to Britain to have their baby put down. According to figures for 2015, 10 of the total of 3,265 were less than 16 years old. Some 48 per cent of those who gave Irish addresses were aged in their 20s and 37 per cent were in their 30s.
To believe that all of the thousands of abortions were justified on health grounds would surely be carrying things to the extreme.
For the record, official figures indicate that 141 of the abortions carried out in 2015 were performed under what is described as ground E, a category that includes Down Syndrome, cleft lip and palate and other medical conditions.
Were groups that are now seeking to overthrow the Eighth Amendment to be successful, it appears highly probable that Ireland would very soon become a killing ground for multiple thousands of unwanted babies.
Given the slaughter of the Northern Ireland “troubles” when more than 3,500 people were killed, 52% of them civilians, what possible reason can there now be for more killings, this time the killing of the most innocent, on this island?
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Ireland for the ‘World Meeting of Families’ in August. Would it not be shocking and truly tragic were the country’s message during his visit to be that it had just legitimised a regime for the intentional torture and annihilation of innocent infants in the womb?
‘More than 1 million civilians who were not involved in any armed struggle have been killed by the Americans and Ireland was party to it.’
Sligo News File.
Ireland is facilitating a “crime” in permitting Shannon Airport to be used for military purposes, the Dail has heard.
Deputy Mick Wallace said “Fianna Fail and the former Progress Democrats, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party and, now, Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance have facilitated the US using Shannon as a military base to create unbelievable destruction and hardship.
“More than 1 million civilians who were not involved in any armed struggle have been killed by the Americans and Ireland was party to it.”
He said, “The writer, Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi living in New York, said this week that the invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a blunder or even a colossal mistake but that it was a crime and those who perpetrated it are still at large.”
He also referenced a statement in which, he claimed, former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter stated that “the Garda had no role in inspecting military aircraft because they have sovereign immunity.
“We need a rethink on this issue,” he said.
The TD also earlier questioned the proposed participation of Irish Defence Force members in a German-led EU battle group.
“Again,” he said, “we are facing the prospect of Irish troops taking part in an EU battle group.
“It has been reported that the Army Rangers will be taking part in their first overseas deployment since the peacekeeping mission in Chad in 2008,” he added.
Calling on Minister of State Paul Kehoe to “outline the range of military equipment that our forces will be using,” he went on to question how the minister considered that “such training and activity is compliant with Ireland’s role as a neutral country?”
‘More than 100,000 of State’s poorest unable to earn a living wage from their work.’
Sligo News File
Poverty is rampant with some tens of thousands of people suffering massive deprivation.
A report released by Social Justice Ireland has revealed that nearly 800,000 of the population is now living below the poverty line.
More shockingly still, 100,000 of the country’s poorest have jobs but cannot earn a living wage.
The dismal record was raised in the Dail today by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Addressing the Tanaiste, Simon Coveney, McDonald said the research by Social Justice showed that a startling 780,000 people are living below the poverty line. However, the figure that really jumped out from the report was that, she said, “more than 100,000 of the 780,000 people have jobs but cannot earn a living wage.”
“The reality is that this group which is perhaps best described as the barely-getting-by class has continued to grow since 2009. They are people who get out of bed early in the morning and work hard as they want to provide for their families. They have modest aspirations to have a decent life, yet they cannot plan for the future. How can they when they cannot make ends meet in the here and now?
“The casualisation of work, insecure employment and zero hour contracts are a real problem. Low pay, especially when taken in the context of the soaring cost of living, is also a real problem. Workers on very low wages and in insecure employment are somehow being asked to find the money to pay extortionate rent, grossly inflated insurance premiums and crushing child care costs.
“Each bill that comes through their letterbox lands with the weight of a sledgehammer. Many of these workers live with a constant sense of vulnerability. They fear that one unexpected occurrence, such as the car breaking down or a family member falling sick, will throw the train off the tracks and into chaos.
“I know Fine Gael’s mantra is that a job is the surest way to guard against poverty; certainly, it should be. However, Fine Gael says this while turning a blind eye to a recovery in which work does not pay. A job cannot be cheap labour. It must mean the cost of living and more. A job must give any worker the means not only to survive but also to
thrive. Good and secure jobs would replace workers’ vulnerability with confidence and certainty.
“The Government has a responsibility to ensure that these principles underpin our economy. The aspiration to a good life cannot be the preserve of the wealthy or the higher
echelons of society. To these more than 100,000 workers, the Taoiseach’s and the Government’s republic of opportunity is, quite frankly, a joke, and a bad one.
Remarking that he had not read that report, Coveney said, “Over the last ten days or so, while there was somewhat of a break in political activity in this House, a lot of economic data was released. All of it was pretty good news.
He said that “last year people’s wages increased by about 2.5%. Almost 70,000 extra people found employment last year; I think the official figure was 66,800. We are seeing more people at work and earning higher wages.
“That is the way to lift people out of poverty. It is about ensuring that we help people re-skill and find employment, providing decent working conditions for them and ensuring that the minimum wage is also at an appropriate level.
“This Government and the previous one increased the minimum wage on three separate occasions. Even at a time when unemployment was very high, and there was a lot of pressure on the labour force, we were increasing the minimum wage because we felt it was important to ensure that work could pay. That strategy has been working. Work does pay now.
“We are seeing an economy that is growing employment
opportunities, increasing wages and ensuring that people are incentivised to find a decent job, which I am glad to say they can now find all over the country. Of those 66,800 extra jobs, 85% were outside of Dublin.
“That is also ensuring that we are spreading prosperity as it develops and as we manage it into the future.
McDonald said that for 100,000 people at work, “the prosperity train has not checked in at all. They still struggle, as I set out, not for ostentatious things, luxuries or extras but for the basics – a new pair of shoes for their child, a warm winter coat and the ability to make their rent, mortgage or household bills without constantly worrying.”
“To applaud the minimum wage as though that were reaching some high-water level in the economy is not on,” she said.