THERE was a mixed reaction to the jobs initiative from the unemployed, unions, social justice groups and opposition politicians.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said it was a “promising first step” while Social Justice Ireland said the scheme was “far too small to make any impact of substance on Ireland’s record level of long-term unemployment”.
The Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (INOU) described it “as a start” but warned “there’s a lot more to do”.
Director of Social Justice Ireland, Fr Sean Healy said “more radical action” was needed from Government than was evident at yesterday’s announcement.
Independent TD Shane Ross said the scheme heralded “nothing new, no imagination and no big picture” and was further evidence of “back pedalling on election promises”.
“One or two of its provisions are good. For example, the concentration on the tourism industry is to be commended and there are some other concessions here, there and everywhere, but the Government is tinkering at the edges. Where is the vision we would expect from a new Government that has inherited such an appalling situation? This has the markings of the Department of Finance. It has been conceded by the Government that this is being dictated by the IMF and the EU,” he said.
People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett was scathing in his reaction to the initiative, describing it as “a damp squib to beat all damp squibs — a spectacular non-event that will do little or nothing to create the jobs so desperately needed in this country”.
Meanwhile, INOU director of policy Brid O’Brien sought the positive. “There is a range of 20,000 additional training and educational opportunities being opened up by the initiative but we need more — especially for those who aren’t ready to go to third level education yet”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin pointed out that “many of the key labour-intensive projects announced are receiving very little new money”.
“In fact 70% of the allocation announced for education, roads and retrofitting is actually taken from existing allocations. €30 million is announced for environmental retrofitting of homes, but €11m of this is coming directly from the Department’s existing capital allocation. A further €30m is announced for summer capital works in schools, but €20 million is existing schools capital money And, €135m is announced for total capital spending, but €106m of this is from existing provisions,” he said.
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