Deputy Healy raises the consequences of the abolishment of the CLÁR and RAPID programmes which have served deprived communities throughout the country, and which has directly contributed to the loss of 11,150 front-line jobs in the community and voluntary sector; whilst failed bank executives are paid €500,000 per annum.

Deputy Healy asks that the Taoiseach reinstate funding relating to the RAPID and CLÁR programmes as well as funding relating to RAPID coordinators.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
The policy being pursued in respect of the abolition of the CLÁR and RAPID programmes has directly contributed to the loss of 11,150 front-line jobs in the community and voluntary sector. The staff who occupied those jobs served deprived communities throughout the country. In 2012 Brian Harvey presented his report, “Downsizing the Community Sector” to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU. Said report showed that the contraction in the sector – on foot of a policy introduced by the previous Government and continued by the current Administration – would lead to 11,150 direct jobs in the community and voluntary area being lost by the end of this year and that by 2015 a total of 17,000, or one third of the total number of jobs in the sector, will have been lost. As already stated, these are front-line jobs which are occupied by those who serve deprived communities. All of this is happening at a time when—–

Seán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
Does the Deputy have a question?

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
—–the Government has given failed banks permission to pay their executives €500,000 per year.

Finian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
Hear, hear.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
There appears to be a golden circle involving bank executives, Government advisers and chief executives of voluntary hospitals and, effectively, these individuals appear to be getting away scot free. As Christmas draws near and as increasing numbers of children go to school hungry, I ask the Taoiseach to cast off his role as Scrooge and reinstate funding for the RAPID and CLÁR programmes. I also ask him to reinstate the funding relating to RAPID co-ordinators.

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
The Deputy picks a particular line and that is what he wants to do. In the budget for 2013, the Minister for Finance reduced the rate of VAT which applies to the hospitality sector from 13.5% to 9%.

Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
What has that got to do with disadvantaged areas?

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Not only did that stabilise the industry, it also allowed for the creation of 15,000 new jobs.

Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
The Taoiseach should come off it.

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Those jobs were not all created in large urban centres. The Minister has continued the policy in this regard in budget 2014. Not only that, travel tax will be zero-rated from 21 April next and this will lead to 1 million additional passengers entering the country as a consequence of Ryanair’s plan to establish new routes. Does the Deputy believe that all of those passengers coming here will stay only in Dublin? Does he not believe that they will visit the areas to which he refers? Is it not right and proper that people should never be confined to projects only and that they should have the opportunity to break out from that—–

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
—–and obtain employment in and contribute to their own communities? I do not deny the value of the RAPID or CLÁR programmes, nor do I deny the value of community employment schemes, the Tús programme—–

Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
The Taoiseach is reading from the wrong script.

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
—–the MOMENTUM programme, JobBridge or JobsPlus. These all involve giving people the opportunity to obtain employment, to upskill and better themselves and to make a contribution. Of course Deputy Healy will pick an area which it suits him to discuss. He does not want to understand – perhaps he does not wish to appreciate – the fact that when the Government makes a decision, it can have an impact to the benefit of people. I refer, for example, to the decision we made in respect of the hospitality and tourism sector, which benefited the Deputy’s own wonderful county.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
The question I asked relates to disadvantaged communities.

Finian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
The Taoiseach is waffling again.

Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
The decision in question led to the creation of 15,000 extra jobs. As a result of The Gathering, family groups from abroad have returned to visit every county in the country. In total, some 500,000 additional tourists have come here in 2013 and this has contributed to the development of local economies.
The Deputy asked if I am going to restore the funding previous available for CLÁR, RAPID and a number of other programmes. The budget has already been put in place and we have changed the structures relating to the way in which moneys are channelled to local authorities. As a result of those changes – which alter the balance between elected representatives and the executives of local authorities – there will be far greater transparency and accountability. I hope this will have a beneficial impact on the areas, both urban and rural, to which the Deputy refers.

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