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RURAL communities are losing skilled people due to the criteria attached to different community employment (CE) schemes.

Clare’s Oireachtas members have been contacted following a proposal before the West Clare Municipal District seeking a modification to the eligibility criteria and contracts longer than three years for community schemes and the rural social scheme (RSS).

Tabled by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF), the motion asked that efforts to retain workers on the schemes past the retirement age of 65 to the new pension age be supported. Tweaking this, the eligibility criteria and lengthier contracts “would help maintain the number of participants on these valuable schemes,” he believed.

Community and voluntary groups in Clare are “wholly dependent” on CE schemes “to keep the grass cut, the tarmac tidy, the walls built, developments ongoing and to keep places in order,” Cllr Killeen highlighted.

These schemes exist to encourage people to get back to work, the Corofin representative acknowledged. “They are of huge benefit to the communities but also to those involved in the schemes”. He added, “the placement is very short, we are losing suitable and qualified people, they are taken off the valuable scheme they are on and left in the waiting room for permanent employment to come to them”.

Individuals “are doing phenomenal work but then the scheme ends and we lose them, we need to retain these people,” Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) stressed. “There is a huge amount of work that these people do that Clare County Council were once doing”.

Without the schemes a lot of work would not be happening in rural areas, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) flagged. “There is a little bit of a one size fits all being applied and it’s not helping rural communities when you’re losing skilled people”. Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) added, “The objective is desirable but it’s essential. The only solution is what exists at the moment, Clare County Council are not able to fill the void”.

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