Wednesday, 22 June 1960
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Barry: asked the Minister for Finance if in the recruitment of labour for the carrying out of work under the Rural Improvement Scheme he will give consideration to the employment of small farmers who have contributed to the cost of the work.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. J. Brennan): In accordance with a general policy of long standing first preference in employment is given to suitable unemployment assistance recipients and unemployment benefit claimants registered at the local offices of the Department of Social Welfare. Where a sufficient number of such persons is not available special consideration is given  to the landholders who are served by the scheme and have contributed to the cost.
Mr. Barry: Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in Cork, and particularly in West Cork which is involved in this case, there is a complaint that small holders of £3 and £4 valuation are passed over even though they have contributed to the cost of the scheme? Will he now take steps to ensure that these people who are depending on work provided by the county council should be employed in future in these schemes?
Mr. J. Brennan: I have told the Deputy in my reply that in employment under the Rural Improvements Scheme first preference is given to unemployment assistance recipients and only where there are not sufficient numbers of these available is preference given to the contributors to the scheme.
Mr. Dillon: Has it not always been a distinguishing mark of rural improvement schemes where contributions were made by small farmers who are deemed to come within, the scope of the scheme that they would be given an opportunity of working upon them even to the point of hiring their horses and carts so that in many cases those who had not the ready cash to put down would be given an opportunity of earning, in the course of the improvement scheme, the contribution they were called upon to make?
Mr. J. Brennan: No. I shall give the order of preference which, so far as I can say, has always been given according to decided policy: first, unemployment assistance recipients; secondly, unemployment benefit claimants; and thirdly, beneficiaries or members of their families who have contributed to the cost of the work,  and non-claimants registered at the employment exchange. They are in third position. It very often works out that contributors are also registered unemployed, and sometimes these jobs are carried out in the summer in certain areas where there are very few, if any, people registered as unemployed. In that case the work goes to the contributors.
Mr. Dillon: If there are two categories of persons, one consisting of registered unemployment assistance persons who are contributing to the scheme and the other registered unemployed assistance persons who are not contributing to the scheme, would the registered unemployed persons who are not contributing to the scheme get prior consideration?
Mr. Norton: Is the order of approval the Parliamentary Secretary has just quoted applied universally and without alteration? What is the position in a case where a person offers to contribute to the improvement scheme in the form of his own labour? Where does he stand in the queue? Does he stand with the unemployment assistance recipients and the unemployment insurance recipients registered at the local employment exchange?
Mr. J. Brennan: There is no such provision in the regulations. Where engineers take it upon themselves to accept free labour that is another  matter, but there is no regulation to cover taking free labour as a contributiton.
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