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Government attack on community employment schemes indefensible

5 November, 2003

Sinn Fein County Councillor Gerry Murray has condemned the ongoing cuts in FAS Community Employment Schemes. In a strongly worded statement Councillor Murray described comments by Deputy John Carty in relation to the cuts as hypocritical and of little consolation to people who had lost their jobs. The reality is that many worthy community development projects are now at a standstill and Deputy Carty and his party must accept full responsibility.

Councillor Murray said.

"No amount of spin doctoring by Deputy Carthy and his Fianna Fail colleagues will diminish the fact that this is an attack on the people and organisations who are at the coalface of community development in this Country. Not only have we seen a series of significant cuts in recent times, but communities who have applied for new FAS schemes have little prospect of having their schemes sanctioned in the lifetime of this Government".

"In the last twenty years FAS has played a crucial role in Community development and has provided vital social, cultural, and economic infrastructure at little or no cost to the exchequer. Why Deputy Carthy and his party should attack community development projects on this scale is beyond me."

"FAS schemes in tandem with other community enterprise initiatives have the potential to create self financing communities, and should be regarded as the first step on the road to creating Public Community Partnerships. One of the main objectives of Sinn Fein is to empower communities by ensuring that they have the resources and skills to become self sustaining and independent. I have no doubt that Deputy Carthy and his Fianna Fail colleagues are truly frightened by such a concept and the current cuts seem to be part of a strategy to ensure that communities will remain exclusively dependent on the very limited resources that central Government makes available to them.

"The current cuts will only further frustrate the efforts of those who are involved in the voluntary sector and will make the timeframe for the delivery of much needed social projects longer and protracted. In some cases such projects will have to be completely abandoned due the current cuts. In such an negative atmosphere is it any wonder that people are less prepared to give of their time to the community and voluntary sector when this Government constantly undermines their hard work" ENDS

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