Pat 'the Cope Gallagher, TD and leas-cheann comhairle.
Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, TD and leas-cheann comhairle, has called on the Department of Employment and Social Protection to fill without delay the remaining 299 Rural Social Scheme (RSS) posts that were allocated as part of Budget 2017.
“It is totally unacceptable that this situation was allowed to drag on for a full year without solution,” Deputy Gallagher said.
Former Minister, Leo Varadkar, had allocated an additional 500 Rural Social Scheme posts in Budget 2017, but they remain unfilled throughout the country, Deputy Gallagher said.
“Despite the fanfare of the launch of the additional posts by the former Minister last year, it seems no effort has been made to fill these posts on the part of the Government, and it is truly shocking that 299 posts remain unfilled right throughout our rural communities, especially in the context that so many rural areas are in urgent need of these additional posts and positions,” he said.
Deputy Gallagher received confirmation of the vacancies in response to a question he tabled this week to the department.
“This is another example of how this present government’s rural policy simply is not working, and that there is a complete failure on the part of the Government to prioritise fair and balanced development throughout all our regions but, most especially in rural areas,” he said.
He said the RSS provides excellent work for communities and voluntary sector groups across rural Ireland, saying much of the work would never be funded by local authorities or other funding agencies.
“It also provides an excellent social platform for those working on the scheme,” Deputy Gallagher said. “Rural social schemes operate in each and every one of our parishes and districts.” He said the failure to fill the posts has had a negative impact on such voluntary groups as Tidy Towns committees, sporting organisations and development committees.
He said the Minister for Social Protection needs to fill the remaining 299 posts without delay.
“Time and time again we witness the failure of this government to prioritise real rural development,” the deputy said.
“Numerous communities are crying out for additional supports and assistance which the RSS can provide,” Deputy Gallagher said. “This government needs to realise it is failing rural Ireland and despite the PR they are light on substance.”