Loss of CE workers to impact Dún na Sí

Day to day operations at Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park will come under massive strain after five CE Scheme workers came to the end of their contracts last week.

The management of the park revealed the news on their Facebook page last Thursday, expressing their deep concern regarding how the park will operate moving forward.

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.

Prior to April this year, those who wished to partake in the scheme needed to be at least 25 years old. People younger than 55 were permitted to undertake CE Scheme placements for up to six years, while those older than 55 were restricted to three years.

Speaking this week, Moire O'Connor, CE supervisor, explains just how important these workers are to the park, and how their departure will impact it.

"The workers deal with the maintenance of the park and the centre, and functions that were taking place," she said. "They prepared beforehand, helped at the events, and tidied up after as well. There are now only four looking after all of that, down from 10, so we have been significantly reduced in terms of our workforce."

Olive Quinn, chairperson of Dún na Sí, expressed her sadness at seeing long term colleagues and friends leaving roles they have thoroughly enjoyed undertaking.

"I am devastated for the ones that had to leave. We had bonded, they were our colleagues," she said. "One man in particular is 58, he will struggle to get employment elsewhere. The jobs gave these people a purpose in life, they had great friends, and it is very sad really."

Local Fine Gael councillor John Dolan says the Government must act now and introduce new measures for people finishing up on CE Schemes.

“Some of these people are in their mid 50s and want to stay on the scheme,” he said. “I think we need to find a way nationally to keep these people, who are happy in what they are doing, involved in these schemes.

"The likes of Dún na Sí will not survive without schemes like this. They cannot on their own afford to pay for staff and the continued up-keep of the place. When you have a fine facility like Dún na Sí, it is a crying shame if it is made close its gates because of what I would call a technicality."

The team at Dún na Sí have been making attempts to alter the scheme's guidelines for years. Engaging with both local and national politicians they are determined to make the change happen.

"We are not giving up. We will stay lobbying and we will be considering our next step," Ms Quinn concluded.

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