Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 9 Jul 1997

Vol. 480 No. 2

Other Questions. - Community Employment.

Donal Carey


44 Mr. D. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment the plans, if any, she has to modify the conditions which govern eligibility for community employment schemes, particularly in respect of women, other than lone parents, who wish to return to work. [13773/97]

Noel Ahern


65 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment when married women will be allowed to qualify for community employment schemes; if so, if such qualification will be limited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13396/97]

Derek McDowell


75 Mr. McDowell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the fact that married women who have been out of the workforce for some time are ineligible for community employment schemes; her views on whether this is fair; and the measures, if any, she will take to make it possible for such people to access such courses. [13959/97]

Derek McDowell


76 Mr. McDowell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment if she will liaise with FÁS to ensure that courses and training are made available to married women who have been out of the workforce for some time. [13960/97]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44, 65, 75 and 76 together.

Community employment is specifically designed to prevent marginalisation among the most disadvantaged of the long-term unemployed.

An interdepartmental working group consisting of representatives of various interested Government Departments, including Enterprise and Employment, is examining the treatment of married, cohabiting and one parent households under the tax and social welfare codes and included in their brief is the question of access to CE. However, I have no plans to widen the eligibility criteria for community employment at present.

I would draw the Minister's attention to the fact that I called Question No. 43 but the Minister read the reply to Question No. 44.

I thought I answered that with priority question No. 36 and Question No. 53. The question I am answering now is that tabled by Deputy McDowell.

I am somewhat confused by the Minister's response. She indicated earlier in response to a supplementary question that she was open to the idea of extending the eligibility criteria for community employment to facilitate married women who want to re-enter the workforce. She now seems to be indicating that she has no plans in that regard.

What I said was that I am open to considering the matter but I have no plans at the moment to widen the criteria. Clearly, unless I examine the matter, I am not in a position to say whether I will or will not.

The Minister had very strong views in the past.

I had very strong views about married women returning to the workforce. I still have very strong views on that matter.

But no plans.

I did not say I had no plans. I said I had an open mind to the issue.

I would like to pursue that point with the Minister. Would she agree that her remarks about lone parents during the election campaign struck a cord with many married women who understood her remarks to mean, among other things, that if she were in a position to influence their lives for the better, she would and, specifically, that if she were in a position to give them access to community employment schemes — which is something on which one frequently gets representations from married women — she would do so? Is the Minister saying she has no intention of allowing married women access to community employment schemes?

My remarks certainly did not strike a cord with the Deputy, so it is a bit much to have to listen to him putting forward such great ideas now. I want to see women involved in work, in decision-making, fully involved in Irish life. In so far as I can bring that about, that is what I will do. I have an open mind on this issue. From time to time in the past FÁS had return to work schemes for married women, some of which were successful and some of which were not. There is a wide range of issues involved here. The priority of this Government in relation to unemployment is to ensure that as many people as possible, including married women, single women, married men and single men have the opportunity and dignity of work. We want, in so far as we can, to begin to move people from welfare to work and to training opportunities to bring that about.

The specific question is whether the Minister intends to give married women working in the home access to community employment schemes.

They have not had access for some considerable time and the Deputy, when he was in Government, did nothing about that. I intend to look at the issue.

When in Opposition, the Minister had very strong and well developed views on this issue. She now appears to have forgotten those views. Is it not fair to expect at this stage that she would have some idea of the direction she will take in this area to which she has given a lot of study in the past?

The Deputy may have had strong views when he was in Government, but I found it hard to get him to tell me what they were when I was in Opposition. I still have strong views and I intend to make decisions on the basis of those views, and I will not be found wanting. When I saw these questions I wondered why the Deputy did not, during his two-and-a-half years in Government, do something about these matters on which he wants me to act in two weeks.