Senator Catherine Ardagh speaking on Brexit and Seanad reform at Statements by An Taoiseach
Senator Catherine Ardagh calls for better support for victims of crime and for the families of victims of crime
Fianna Fáil Seanad group leader, Catherine Ardagh has called for reform of the selection process for schools to enter the DEIS programme.
Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon, Senator Ardagh Said, “Designated DEIS schools were introduced as part of Fianna Fáil policy in 2005 to address socioeconomic based educational inequality. Since then, the application process for schools to apply to designated as a DEIS school has become simply unfit for purpose.
“Much of the criteria for eligibility are performance based and just one of the indicators is a socioeconomic measure. Therefore the selection process is essentially penalising some schools for performing well.
“A review of DEIS was promised in 2005 and this has still not been carried out. This review must be undertaken to prioritise the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged circumstances. The traps within the current system of eligibility must be acknowledged.
“In my own constituency, the challenges associated with the social and economic conditions in the Dublin 12 area have risen significantly over recent years and expanding this scheme in schools could benefit the lives of south inner city children.
“Policies for early intervention and smaller class sizes are critical to improving the life outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The educational needs of these children are currently being jeopardised by an inadequate Department selection process.”
Social Protection System must get people back to work or into education – Ardagh
Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Social Protection Spokesperson, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that the entire social protection system must re-focus itself on providing opportunities rather than trapping many.
“Too many of the schemes provided by the Department are overly bureaucratic and burdensome."
“A core objective of every scheme that offered by the Department those who are unemployed must be to move people into further education, training and ultimately paid employment.
“If this is not evidently the case, then proper social policy is not being implemented,” said Senator Ardagh.
“Regrettably, many of the current schemes provided do not operate in such a way. The Back to Education Allowance scheme is one appropriate example that should empower those that have never had the chance to attend higher education. However, the barriers that are put in front of people are wholly unethical.
“Recently, lone-parent applicants have been refused access to this scheme because their children are aged seven or older. This clause is nonsensical and does not meet the primary objective of guiding people towards paid employment. It is crucial that we make work pay, and ensure that those in receipt of social protection feel the full benefit of returning to work.
“For far too many, the pressure of maintaining family income levels forces many to resist taking on employment or returning to education. The welfare system must address this view and ensure that those transitioning from welfare to paid-employment or education are supported through a scheme such as sliding payments.
“The guidelines, and regulations, surrounding social protection schemes must adapt to and reflect the reality of life for people. Not to mention, be flexible enough to fulfil the moral objective of good social policy,” concluded the Fianna Fáil Senator.
Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that the scale of youth unemployment in Ireland is indicative of the continuing two-tier recovery.
In the latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office, 17.1% of those aged 15-24 remained out of work in August.
Commenting on the new data Senator Ardagh said, "The rate of youth unemployment remains far too high and demonstrates the fact that thousands of young people are yet to feel any benefits of the economic recovery.
“While unemployment is falling generally, it is time that this government effectively addressed youth unemployment in a comprehensive way.
“As Minister for State for Training, Skills and Innovation, Minister Halligan needs to refocus his attention towards his portfolio or we may end up with an entrenched two-tier society where an entire generation of young people are left behind. In his position he has the capacity to directly impact the employability of young people through training and upskilling.
“It’s clear that the action plan for jobs is failing to capture skilled Irish graduates. It is unacceptable that the number of highly qualified graduates leaving the country continues unabated. There is clearly a significant void in supports and opportunities for graduates which must be addressed.
"Pro-active thinking is required to help tackle youth unemployment and lift young people out of long-term unemployment.
“There are serious negative consequences for the individual and wider society if we fail to tackle youth unemployment. There is still a significant disparity in the nature of the recovery across the country. If there is to be any real lasting recovery then it must extend to all regions, age demographic and communities in a fair and balanced way.
“We need concrete action on youth unemployment and innovative government policy that will lead to secure and lasting employment for all.” concluded Senator Ardagh.
Fianna Fáil Senator and Seanad Group Leader, Catherine Ardagh has called on the Government to review the current pension system. People who may have taken time out of the workplace to look after children or to care for a relative are being unfairly penalised as they fail to qualify for a full pension.
Commenting on the issue Senator Ardagh said, “I have been contacted by a number of women who are worried about their pension entitlements. These are women who have taken a number of years out of work to look after their children, and who now do not have enough contributions to qualify for the full state pension.
“I’ve also been made aware of certain cases where people have had to leave work to care for an elderly relative and are now in the same unjust position.
“The Government must review the current system, which is deeply unfair. People leaving the workforce to care for children or relatives should not be penalised for doing so. They have made a substantial contribution to society, both in their roles in the workplace, and as carers. This needs to be fully realised and recognised by the State.
“This Government speaks regularly about equality and fairness, but this pensions system is outdated and unequal. My Fianna Fáil colleagues and I will be further raising this issue again when the Seanad resumes next month,” concluded Senator Ardagh.