Seamus Healy asks Taoiseach to “cast off role of Scrooge”

A South Tipperary TD has asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if his government has a political agenda to attack the poor.

A South Tipperary TD has asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if his government has a political agenda to attack the poor.

The question was put to the Taoiseach in the Dail by Deputy Seamus Healy.

With Christmas drawing near “and as more and more poor children go to school hungry”, Deputy Healy told the Taoiseach to “cast off the role of Scrooge and reverse your destructive community sector policy”.

The Deputy’s comments were made as he criticised the termination of the CLAR (Ceanntair Laga Árd-Riachtanais) and the wind-down of the RAPID (Revitalising Areas through Planning, Investment and Development) Programmes.

He said these programmes were developed to assist deprived urban and rural communities that the Celtic Tiger had by-passed. They were set up in areas that suffered depravation for many years because of a lack of facilities, services and resources which were reflected in poverty, high unemployment, early school leaving, high crime rates and anti-social behaviour issues.

“Since the implementation of the RAPID Programme there have been improvements to these areas of disadvantage with the provision of Community Policing units, the development of community centres catering for youth, persons with disability and the elderly, outdoor facilities, training programmes and childcare facilities. As a consequence crime and anti-social behaviour has decreased. Now your government is throwing all this away at a time when unemployment in these areas is at unprecedented levels and poverty is increasing”.

He said that Carrick-on Suir, Tipperary Town and parts of Clonmel were affected by the cutbacks.

“The RAPID Programme, which reached over €10 million in 2009 is now reduced by your government to less than €2 million to cover deprived communities all over the country. This is a reduction of 80% on 2009. The RAPID co-ordinators, employed by local authorities, in respect of whom you have now withdrawn funding, have been redeployed to other duties. This is at a time when you have given permission to failed banks to pay their chief executives €500,000 per year”, Deputy Healy added.