[Sinn Fein]

3rd January 2003

Heartless Harney shamed on CE Schemes

Sinn Fein TD Seán Crowe this morning said that it came as no surprise that Mary Harney had tried to wield the axe on 13,000 Community Employment places last year, despite public commitments to the contrary during the election campaign. Deputy Crowe has called on the government to clarify their position in relation to such schemes immediately. Deputy Crowe said:

"The Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat coalition have proven time and again that their interest in the unemployed is non-existent. This years budget dealt a devastating blow to those who want to return to full time employment by reducing eligibility to such schemes to those who have been unemployed for five years instead of 15 months as had been the case.

"The Back to Work initiative has been one of the few schemes that have given a sign of hope to those who find themselves and their families trapped in a cycle of unemployment and poverty. The fact that almost 100,000 families have already benefited from this programme shows the very real impact that it can have in tackling poverty. This obviously means little to Mary Harney who was willing to wield her axe so quickly.

"Todays revelations will increase concerns that this government is on a course to remove such schemes entirely thereby depriving communities of badly needed services and the opportunity to make the transition from welfare to work for many people. I am calling on the government to immediately clarify their position on these schemes so as to end the uncertainties being faced by many people heading in to the new year."

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