Friday, 13 January 2012

Wicklow Community Employment Scheme Facing Closure

Wicklow Community Employment Scheme Facing Closure

An award winning Community Employment scheme in Aughrim, Co Wicklow is facing closure with the loss of 23 jobs and a severe curtailment of local tourism amenities. The National Disabled Angling Park FAS scheme is based on a 4 acre lake within an 8 acre riverside park with panoramic views overlooking the surrounding Wicklow hills.

The facility is run by "Aughrim Tidy Towns Ltd", a not-for-profit company that sponsors a CE scheme whose participants are responsible for the management, maintenance and running of the park. They also carry out a vital range of services with regard to the upkeep of the town. The scheme is funded by FAS which has implemented a 66% cut in funding despite a Government commitment that no Community Employment Scheme would close pending a review which is due to be completed by the end of March of this year. 
Director of the company and Manager of the scheme, Barry Moules, said;
“The cut of two thirds to our funding that has come into force since 1st January means we simply do not have the money to keep the scheme going. All of our participants are devastated and the consequences for our town are very serious.” He called on the Government, and local TD’s in particular, to intervene with FAS as a matter of urgency to ensure the survival of the Community Employment Scheme.

The closure of the scheme will mean that the National Disabled Angling Park will have to close to the public. This in turn will result in the closure of the new children’s playground situated in the park. The closure of the park will also have a huge impact on local retailers and the shops providing services to anglers. The wide range of duties in relation to tidy towns work such as litter collection and grass cutting will also cease.
Among the employees affected is Brendan Tallon, a 42 year old father of six children who has been employed on the scheme for the last 18 months.

“This scheme is helping me to up my carpentry skills and begin to plan for self-employment. To be told that it’s going to be stopped when I’m only half way through my 3 year placement is a shattering experience,” he said.

SIPTU Sectoral Organiser, Eddie Mullins, called on FAS to respect the Government’s commitment with regard to funding.

“Minister Joan Burton gave a clear undertaking in the Dáil that no Community Employment Scheme will close pending the outcome of the review. I am calling on FAS to respect this commitment and ensure adequate funding continues to be given for this excellent scheme that plays such a vital role in the local tourism economy of Co Wicklow”.

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