Local Fine Gael councillor, John Dolan, is calling on the council to write to the Minister for Rural Development and Minister for Social Protection requesting changes to Community Employment Schemes (CE ).
CE Schemes are designed to help people who are long-term unemployed to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities such as Tidy Towns and local GAA clubs.
However, eligibility restrictions and increased competition from JobPath have resulted in a drop in the number of people available to take on these roles of late.
Prior to April this year, those who wished to partake in the scheme needed to be at least 25 years old, people under the age of 55 were permitted to undertake CE Scheme placements for up to six years, while those older than 55 were restricted to three years.
Cllr Dolan led a delegation of CE workers to meet then Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, last year in order to communicate the issues surrounding CE Schemes.
In the wake of that meeting, changes introduced included a reduction in the entry age for CE Schemes to 21 years, participants younger than 55 years could remain on the scheme for three years, while those more than 55 years of age would be allowed to remain on schemes for six years.
Despite these changes, Cllr Dolan told the chamber at Monday’s meeting that CE Schemes countrywide are still under threat and that this is affecting local amenities like Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park, which currently has six CE Scheme workers coming to the end of their term. Cllr Dolan says if these positions cannot be filled it is realistic to assume that the park may close.
It was resolved to send a letter to the Ministers for Rural Development and Social Protection, and also to open correspondence with new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, on the issue.