Tuesday, 5 February 2019
JobPath Programme: Motion [Private Members]
I thank Sinn Féin, in particular Deputy Brady, for tabling the motion and I have no hesitation in supporting it. I am sorry the Minister has left. I know that for various reasons Ministers must leave because, as has already been referred to by a Labour Party Deputy, what the Minister said was worrying. She stated she is looking to the future for activation services. She stated the Department has already examined future options for contracted activation services. This is particularly worrying in view of the fact it seems the majority of the Dáil will vote in favour of the motion and have expressed great concern about the activation programmes.
Another worrying aspect of her speech is the manipulation of figures. Whoever wrote the speech told us it works out at €790 per individual. That figure is totally disingenuous, to put it mildly. The figure given to the Committee of Public Accounts was €3,718 per job created. When we are going to play with figures like this it is difficult to have trust.
Why was the scheme introduced in the first place when the Labour Party was in power with Fine Gael? I have no idea. The justification that it was worth the experiment, which was said a few minutes ago, beggars belief. What should have happened at the time was the existing schemes should have been properly resourced but that did not happen. Of course, it was an ideological decision to privatise the service. At this stage, the Government should gracefully put up its hands and realise the experiment has not worked. It has been referred to as an experiment and it simply has not worked. It is expensive and not worth it. It also undermines communities. There are other difficulties but this is my main difficulty with it. It particularly undermined the community employment scheme and the other schemes to which we have referred. These schemes are about a lot more than employment. They are croílár na gceantar, the heart of the community, that function on every level, including providing crèche services, and communities could not survive without them. It is particularly worrying that this aspect was left out of the Minister's speech. She seems unable to grasp the importance of these organisations.