[Sinn Fein]

22nd June 1999

Government criminalising the unemployed

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean Crowe today accused the government of systematically targeting the weakest groups in society through their ongoing review of the social welfare system. He said that they would be better off putting more finance into helping people back into the workforce.

Councillor Crowe said:

``It is with great interest to see that the government has made savings of 176 million by checking on half of the claimants of social welfare. Once again the government indicates that it is willing to target the most socially deprived groups of the Celtic Tiger society, making them a scapegoat for the machinations of its own wealthy supporters.

``The scheme to review the long term unemployed by a process of interviews is a blatant attempt to pressurise people into low paid or training schemes for which they neither want nor which they are suited. The government is now openly operating a scheme that criminalises the unemployed and dehumanises the claimant.

``Sinn Fein advocates a radically reform of Irish society which will benefit all our people. We believe that access to social welfare is a fundamental right and not privilege that the unemployed should gracefully accept. Sinn Fein would like to see investigations into the golden circle of society who have systematically abused and defrauded the people of this country.''ENDS

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