THERE have been calls for the establishment of a task force to counter unemployment after it emerged recently that the rate of those without work in just one part of the Southside reached a staggering 37.5 per cent last year.
Daithí Doolan, Sinn Féin’s activist in the Ballyfermot area, called for the establishment of a special task force following the publication of statistics that showed that the Cherry Orchard area is now in the top five worst hit parts of the country.
The figures are contained in a report entitled ‘This is Ireland – Highlights from Census 2011’, which contained a list of unemployment black spots around the country. The report was published last month but the figures were compiled when the Census was carried out in April 2011.
The report identified the rate of unemployment at the level of Local Electoral Areas (LEA), which are effectively wards in local elections. These LEAs give a more precise geographical indication of where the unemployed are actually living.
In contrast, unemployment figures published as part of the Live Register, which only provide the number of those signing on at each social welfare office, do not identify where they are living.
The most recent data for Live Register figures shows that there were 3,717 people signing on at the Ballyfermot Social Welfare Office in June of this year.
This compares to a figure of 3,386 at the same office in April 2011 when the Census figures were compiled. Therefore, it is likely that the local unemployment figures in Cherry Orchard have increased at LEA level since the Census was carried out.
Mr Doolan described the 37.5 per cent unemployment rate in the Census findings as an “indictment of the current Government's failed job plan”. He also pointed out that the rate was twice the average of 18.5 per cent in Dublin.
“The Government is failing the people of Ballyfermot,” he declared. “The three Government TDs elected to Dublin South Central last year are simply not doing enough to highlight the growing unemployment problems in the area.”
Mr Doolan said he would write to each of the Government TDs in the constituency to ask if they would participate in the establishment of a jobs task force to tackle unemployment in the area.
“I am calling for all relevant agencies to work with Sinn Féin and other TDs to establish a Ballyfermot Jobs Task Force, to put in place a meaningful plan to secure investment, jobs and training for those in need of employment,” he added.
Southside People contacted all the three Government TDs in the Dublin South Central constituency to provide them with an opportunity to respond to the comments.
Deputy Eric Byrne (Lab) said he would not participate in a jobs task force that was initiated by Sinn Fein.
“The figures are worrying,” he acknowledged. “It is a priority of this Government to address the economic woes of this country in order to create employment. It is rather hypocritical of Sinn Fein as they argued for a no vote to the Fiscal Treaty.
“If they succeeded in defeating the Fiscal Treaty it would have created a worse scenario than Greece. Our recent successes in getting an agreement to alleviate the bailout terms wouldn’t have happened.”
Deputy Michael Conaghan (Lab) said the crisis in the area would not be solved by creating a task force to counter unemployment.
“The action needed is the development of new activation measures and employment schemes which will help the unemployed gain the necessary skills and experience to secure employment, and the creation of sustainable jobs into the future,” he said.
“The Labour Party in Government is working on this crucial issue,” he added.
He also pointed out that late last year the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD (Lab), accepted his invitation to visit Cherry Orchard to see for herself the potential of community employment and other “labour activation” measures in the area.
Catherine Murphy TD (FG) said: “They are worrying statistics but down through the years there have been places in the constituency that have had higher numbers of people unemployed.
“There would be growing concerns,” she added. “Unfortunately, due to the current economic crisis, there are a lot more people unemployed than there have ever been before.”
A spokesperson at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said: “In our first 100 days [in Government] we developed and implemented a Jobs Initiative which brought short-term benefits to job-creation, particularly in areas such as tourism and hospitality where 11,000 new jobs were created by the end of 2011.
“More recently we have started implementing the Action Plan for Jobs, to create 100,000 additional jobs over five years, and Pathways to Work, to ensure that unemployed people can take up jobs vacancies.”