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Government policies have failed local communities - Ó Caoláin

5 September, 2005

The Taoiseach has been accused of "window-dressing" by Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. Deputy Ó Caoláin was commenting on the session on community values at the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party in County Cavan addressed by US author Robert Putnam. Deputy Ó Caoláin said Government policies had fuelled the breakdown of communities and often where communities were organised they were not getting the help they needed. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The focus on community values at the Fianna Fáil meeting is a piece of window-dressing on the part of the Taoiseach and his party. The reality is that this Government‚s policies have actually contributed to the breakdown of communities. One of the building blocks of any community is the school and as Fianna Fáil meets, parents and children are protesting at the failure to provide school transport for thousands of children across this State.

"In the area of housing and planning above all the Government has presided over unbridled development that puts the profits of property speculators above the needs of communities and families.

"People are moving into new housing estates, especially in the ever-expanding greater Dublin area, with few facilities. Adequate schools are not being provided. Existing schools are bursting at the seams and are often in disrepair. The childcare infrastructure is totally inadequate. Often both parents are working to pay massive mortgages and have little time to spend with their children and even less to contribute to community life.

"In an interview at the weekend the Taoiseach cited the need for day care centres for the elderly. This is incredible given the fact that here in County Cavan at Cootehill an excellent day care centre for the elderly has been built but it cannot be used because of lack of Government funding. It was opened in 2002 and is still not being utilised because the voluntary effort of local people in the Senior Citizen‚s Committee is not matched by government support.

"If the Taoiseach is concerned with building communities he should also restore funding to the Community Workers Co-op which his Government cut this year. This is also the Government that cut Community Employment schemes and has taken further powers away from local government so that communities have no real say in the decisions that effect them." ENDS

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