Belfast Telegraph

Call to reverse support scheme cuts

Union members and single parents have picketed the Dail in protest against Budget cuts to community employment schemes.

And in another act of defiance against the Government, rebel Labour TD Patrick Nulty joined the protest and called for a U-turn on the cuts.

"The Government must exercise common sense and immediately reverse the disastrous cuts," said Mr Nulty, who was expelled from the parliamentary party on Monday for voting against the coalition on the Budget.

"This cut has the potential to close vital services as without the materials grant there will not be sufficient funding to cover costs."

Around 100 people took a stand after the Government announced funding cuts to social welfare, which will result in community schemes providing services to children, the elderly and single parents being forced to close down.

Siptu, which organised the protest, pointed out that the 66% cut means the funding of a materials grant and training grant has been slashed from 1,500 euro to 500 euro per scheme.

"In areas of disadvantage, community employment is often the only access people have to work, training and education," Siptu campaign coordinator Darragh O'Connor said.

"The Government has said that fairness is a core principle with regard to this Budget. Let them demonstrate that is the case by reversing these savage cutbacks which threaten the entire future of community employment in our country."

But Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore rejected claims that the Government was closing down community employment schemes.

He said: "The Government is providing additional monies for labour activation. The amount of money provided by the Department of Social Protection for employment support measures in 2012 is almost 100 million euro more than what was provided last year."

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