O'Rourke criticises treatment of jobless


THE deputy leader of Fianna Fail Ms Mary O'Rourke, has accused the Government of failing to meet the needs of the unemployed.

Ms O'Rourke said any assessment of the success in concluding a new national agreement, Partnership 2000, must be based on how successful it is in tackling this problem.

In a statement last night, she said the latest statistics on long term unemployment showed that 134,324 people were on the live register. This figure was up more than 1,000 on October 1994. It was clear evidence, she said, that the policies of the "Rainbow Government are not working".

The Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Mr Bruton, said Ms O'Rourke's thesis was "fundamentally flawed".

"The internationally accepted measure of unemployment is the, Labour Force Survey, which clearly shows that the number of long term unemployed fell by 25,000 last year. Strong pro employment policies have ensured, that 100,000 extra people are at work since this Government took office," he said.

Ms O'Rourke said a rise in long term unemployment at a time of economic health was scandalous, "particularly as over half of the long term unemployed have been out of work for more than three years. Ireland continues to have the highest rate of long term unemployed in the OECD."

She said Partnership 2000 provided an opportunity to do much, more and would be "judged to be a success on what it did for the long term unemployed. She said targets must be set for reducing numbers who were unemployed, ways must be found to ensure that more than one in 16 jobs went to the long term unemployed, as at, present, and that more radical programmes must be introduced.