Fianna Fail introduces Bill to block government curtailment of rural community programmes

‘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.

Eamon Scanlon,TD

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.

Michael Ring, Minister for Rural & Community Development

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.