Over 2,600 additional places have been announced for Community Employment (CE) and Tús programmes across the country.

Minister for Rural and Community Development and Social Protection Heather Humphreys along with Minister of State Joe O’Brien said that the approval of an additional 1,475 places on CE schemes and 1,164 places on Tús schemes “reflects a key commitment” in Pathways to Work – the government’s new employment services strategy.

The CE schemes allocated additional places include, for example: Galway Rural Development Company; Valentia Community Health and Welfare in Co. Kerry; County Kildare LEADER Partnership; Longford Women’s Link; and Inishowen Development Partnership in Co. Donegal.

Making the announcement this week, Minister Humphreys said that at present, there are over 19,000 people participating in CE schemes and over 4,000 on Tús schemes.

In 2020, the Department of Social Protection invested €425 million in these programmes.

Covid-19 impact

“So many of our towns and villages have been negatively impacted by Covid-19,” the minister said.

“But as we emerge from this pandemic, we are determined to support our citizens who find themselves out of work in every way possible.”

CE and Tús schemes are employment support measures for long-term unemployed people and other people in receipt of long-term payments from the Department of Social Protection.

The schemes employ participants to deliver a range of services to local communities throughout the country.

These include local amenities management, environmental projects, arts and culture, sports, childcare, Tidy Towns, health-related services, meals on wheels and drug rehabilitation schemes.

Rural isolation

There were calls earlier this year for CE programmes to be opened up to more participants than currently allowed as a way of helping to combat rural isolation.

Senator Róisín Garvey said that while there are farmers “who may have means”, there are those who also “may not have a social life” and want to join the schemes but are not eligible to do so.

“For mental health, it is really good to create space,” the Green Party senator said.

Wives of farmers who are worried about their husbands’ mental health are asking whether there is any way in which the department can consider allowing them to join a scheme because it would be an outlet for them.

“They have the farm…but there is no company on the land. The cows are great but that will only get one so far.”