Community Employment is an employment and training programme which helps long term unemployed, lone parents and people with disabilities re-enter the workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through on the job training - at present there are almost 24,000 people employed under this remit.
At a crowded meeting in the Community Centre in Inver this week it was revealed that the proposed budgetary cuts present a major threat to many schemes and are in real danger of being disbanded.
Colm Mayborn told the meeting that Community employment is still here but stressed that it will be a long hard struggle to keep it.
He said, “Community Employment Projects are a gateway to employment and offer vital services to the most disadvantaged in our society - they provide assistance to the disabled, older people, childcare, travellers as well as education and reskilling opportunities yet this Government are simply slashing the budget and endangering its future.
“Theses budget cuts will have a major impact on local communities and on a national basis.
“I can only speak for my own project in Killybegs but that would return thirty people back on the unemployment register including the Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor.
“The Tourist Information Office would close, The Heritage Centre would close, the youth clubs and drop - in centres would close and there would be no - one to help with the tidy towns , tidy estates, GAA, parish grounds and administration in various areas. Need I continue.
“I know this could be misconstrued as scare mongering but it could happen unless we make our voices heard.”
Evelyn Harvey who presently works in the Maritime Heritage Centre in Killybegs spoke about the human side of employment.
She said, “Three years ago I didn’t even know how to switch on a computer not to talk even about working on one.
“The Community Employment Scheme gave me the opportunity to train in computers, learn photography and perhaps most importantly, it gave me self - confidence.
“In the past I would never have been able to stand up in a crowded room and speak publicly - I am now doing it everyday.
“It has given me the reason to get up every morning.”
Debbie O’Donnell spoke of her experience, “I had a background in experience in administration and had been working for over 28 years when I found myself on Job Seeker’s Allowance.
“I had to re - invent myself. With the help of the scheme I studied counselling and mental health awareness, child protection and new administration practises.
“It didn’t just train me, it gave me my life back - it gave me my life back and now Joan Burton tells me it’s just not worth it!”
It was agreed at the meeting that a strong petition be organised and various aspects of protest be considered including some on a national level.
People are also asked to contact their local Oireachtas members and local representatives and make their voices heard.
Colm added, “Do we really need such draconian measures - look at the national picture with 23,700 people back on the live register. How would that look to Europe who are watching every step we are making?”
“I have also been in touch with SIPTU who have been very supportive and will be developing a comprehensive strategy within weeks.”