Richard Bruton defends Government record on long-term unemployed
Finian McGrath claims long-term jobless forgotten
Richard Bruton: said the Live Register had come down 60,000 in two years, and that 40,000, or two-thirds of those people, were long-term unemployed.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton denied in the Dáil yesterday the Government had forgotten the long-term unemployed.
The claim was made by Independent TD Finian McGrath, who said market-based initiatives would not deal with the plight of the 100,000 jobless who were in that category.
“It is great to see jobs coming in, particularly for highly-educated people, but we cannot take our eye off the ball in respect of those without jobs long-term.’’
Mr Bruton said the Live Register had come down 60,000 in two years, and that 40,000, or two-thirds of those people, were long-term unemployed. It was inaccurate to say that section of the jobless population did not respond to market opportunities.
“We are seeing a very significant reduction in the number of long-term unemployed people who are getting real jobs in the economy. Of course, we recognise the need for other measures for people who find it difficult, which is why Momentum, which is a part on-the-job and part off-the-job programme, was introduced.’’
Mr Bruton said other schemes had been introduced and expanded to create opportunities for the long-term unemployed.
Mr McGrath said the Government should implement Social Justice Ireland’s proposal for a part-time opportunities programme, creating 100,000 part-time jobs.
He added that a similar experiment was tried in 1994 in areas such as Finglas and Blanchardstown in Dublin, and Clonmel, Co Tipperary, creating some 1,000 jobs in the community and voluntary sector. At the end of it, more than 500 people got real jobs and exited long-term unemployment.
Mr McGrath said additional funding of some €150 million would be required, with money currently spent on social welfare payments to participants on the programme switched to their employer.
“Participants would be paid principally through the reallocation of social welfare payments. I am encouraging the Minister to look constantly at new ideas about job creation and to keep his eye on the ball regarding the long-term unemployed.’’
Mr Bruton said the OECD had produced a report on activation in the Irish labour market that came out against the kind of programme advocated by Mr McGrath. Instead it favoured the kind of programmes introduced by the Government which had a very clear focus on activation and getting people back into the labour market. “That is the direction policy is seeking to develop so that people are moved permanently into real jobs for the long term.’’
The Minister said the Government had made job creation a key priority since coming into office, with the objective of supporting the creation of 100,000 new net jobs in the economy by 2016.
*This article was edited on April 16th