John Halligan has said he will do everything in his power as a junior minister to get rid of the “unfair” and much “abused” JobBridge scheme.
The newly appointed minister of state at the Department of Education also reiterated his view that water charges should not be paid, adding that he would be a “hypocrite” to change this position.
Mr Halligan of the Independent Alliance said he has never agreed with the controversial JobBridge internship programme and would be using his power in government to have it axed.
“I will do everything in my power under this government to change it. I think it probably should be gotten rid of, I think it is being abused,” he said.
“I have never agreed with JobBridge. I have said that quite openly and just because I am supporting a government, or am a minister in government, I am not going to change my view.
“There are many people who value JobBridge but more and more people that I have contacted have found that the JobBridge scheme has been abused,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Halligan pointed to his own constituency in which Waterford University had advertised jobs for highly qualified positions under the scheme.
“That’s outrageously unfair for anyone who has gone to university and studied and then is asked to work for perhaps the minimum wage,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s John Brady has welcomed Mr Halligan’s comments and said: “He has stated what we know to be true — that JobBridge is a failure and that it has been abused.”
“While technically JobBridge falls under the remit of Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, it is encouraging to know that Deputy Halligan will be putting pressure on him to scrap this scheme.”
On the issue of water charges, which Mr Halligan campaigned against in the previous Dáil, the junior minister with responsibility for training and skills said: “I would be a hypocrite if I went against the line that I had been taking for the last five years in the Dáil.”
He said he had consulted a legal team and was told it was a “civil issue” between the individual company and the individual regardless of what position they hold.
“I haven’t been billed. I am not in ownership of the house I live in. The person who owns the house is not paying either because she doesn’t agree with paying Irish Water, but that’s her choice not mine.
“If it did come to be at a later stage if my name is on that property and I am asked to pay I won’t pay it,” said Mr Halligan.
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