[Sinn Fein]

24th February 2003

O'Toole accuses Tanaiste of robbing Peter to pay Paul

Dublin Sinn Fein Councillor Larry O'Toole, speaking at the opening of the Coolock Development Centre this morning, challenged the Tanaiste on her decision to substantially reduce back to work schemes.  He accused her of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Cllr. O'Toole said:

``I wholeheartedly welcome the opening of the Coolock Development Centre. It is a much needed service for the people of Darndale, Artane  and Coolock, who have been overlooked for so long by government policy. However this project has been undermined already on a number of fronts, particularly the decision to make across the board cuts to the back to work scheme and last weeks decision by FÁS to withdraw funding to community businesses due to cutbacks in the FÁS social economy programme.

``Cuts to these programme are already having a direct impact. It is incredible that these programmes, which have proven successful, are first on the chopping block for government cutbacks and it casts a very dark shadow over their long-term viability.

``It is shameless two-facedness on Mary Harney's part, coming to this area to open this center while simultaneously putting its future in jeopardy. It's akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul. We need to see a real government strategy to tackling long-term unemployment and endemic poverty. The current two-faced policy is simply not good enough.''

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