Tuesday, 5 February 2019
JobPath Programme: Motion [Private Members]
I am also delighted to speak on this motion. I commend the excellent work of Deputy Brady. He has doggedly pursued this issue with the Minister for some time now. She is not listening, however. There is no doubt about that. Turas Nua operates according to a bullying and coercive model. While I accept that individual staff may be sympathetic, the generally held view is that people are being put under incredible pressure to take up employment in areas in which they have no interest. This is completely demoralising. The Minister of State should know that but the Fine Gael Party does not know anything about ordinary people. I know political staff members in this House who are being hounded by Turas Nua and effectively being told that despite working three days a week in this institution, they must continue to attend ridiculous sessions where they are questioned on whether they can use email or draw up a curriculum vitae. That is nothing short of intimidation.
The Minister of State is reading something on his phone. I am glad he can do that. What I have spoken of is typical Fine Gael bullying and intimidation of ordinary citizens. It is all about the Government and let everybody else - the peasants - eat cake. This is an absurd waste of time and resources. I asked the Minister last year whether Turas Nua was a private limited company, what payments were made to it to operate its contract with the Department and the period for which such payments were made. The Minister, in her typically arrogant fashion, replied that Turas Nua was a joint venture between FRS Network, the farm relief service, which puts up fences, calves cows, lambs sheep and does great work, and Working Links. I was informed, however, that it was not intended to publish individual payments to the JobPath companies as these were "commercially sensitive" and to do so would place the State at a disadvantage in respect of contracts now in place and future recruitment that might be undertaken. That is a load of codswallop. It is a drivel. This kind of pathetic lack of transparency is just one of the reasons I am supporting the motion. That answer is disgraceful. It shows the empathy the Government has with ordinary people.
I salute the people on community employment and rural social schemes. More important, I support the people and voluntary bodies that run and operate all of these schemes. They are ordinary working people who give their time freely. That is being hijacked. The Government was warned about similar things across the water in England where the same kind of cabal operated. It took over this scheme and destroyed it, as the Government knew well. It was not confused and it knew what it was walking into but it suited Fine Gael's neoliberal agenda and to hell with ordinary people.
Fine Gael is the party of big business and the people with daffodils up the boreens and big trees in big lanes, in other words, the Blueshirts. The people on schemes are to be put back to where they were before and to hell with them. The Government has ruined people's lives. People have taken their own lives and have been tormented, destroyed and demoralised by the way they have been treated. It is nothing short of a disgrace that the Government gets away with this. It is a shame the Minister could not stay for the debate.
The Government bandwagon was wheeled into Tipperary town last Friday. Some 867 people on jobseeker's benefit were written to and told that if they did not turn up at a jobs fair or public relations campaign for Fine Gael election candidates, their payments might be cut. That is a disgraceful way to intimidate citizens in the year of the centenary anniversary of the ambush at Soloheadbeg when people fought for our freedom from the British. Fine Gael imported this cabal into the country from England. It has given this scheme to FRS and other people in Tipperary to implement. It is nothing short of an outrage that people are being bullied and intimidated instead of being given meaningful jobs.
On the flipside, last week we had two Ministers down in Tipperary. The Taoiseach told me 900 people were invited. Was I not invited? I would not be next, nigh nor near the event. There is intimidation, bullying, discrimination and abuse of people who cannot get proper work. Some of them have medical or mental health issues. The event in question was fine for Fine Gael. It is nothing other than the party of the big people and to hell or Connacht with everybody else. Cromwell is back in the form of the Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty. The Minister of State, Deputy Breen, is not far behind her. Being from Clare, he should know better. In rural parts of Clare such as Parteen there are marginalised people. How will they travel to these places? It is shameful and disgraceful. I support this motion.