JUST nine permanent positions have been created so far by a labour scheme Cork County Council operated at a cost of over €1.4m from 2014 to 2017.
Participants in the Government-led Gateway Scheme worked a week on/week off regime for 19.5 hours, over 22 months across 11 municipal districts. They received a €19.50 a week top-up to their jobseekers’ allowance from 2014 up until the scheme ended in August of 2017. The work mostly consisted of outdoor maintenance.
So far, just one roadworks foreman and eight general operatives who partook in the scheme have been taken on permanently by the Council with 25 temporary or seasonal appointments.
There are plans to hire an additional 39 general operatives, with applications open exclusively to participants on the scheme. Interviews are currently being carried out.
Sinn Féin councillor Des O’Grady said the jobs are welcome but there has not been enough created compared to the level of investment from the Council and added that Government should have picked up the bill.
Cork County Council spent €1,123,643 in operating the scheme along with €320,364 on capital projects under the scheme.
“There will be 48 employed out of 205 [participants]. That’s about 25%. It’s more than we were previously led to believe, but it’s still not enough. This work could have been done by the Council with funding provided from Central Government,” he said.
“The €1.4m has a huge effect on frontline services in the county. On this scheme, participants had no option but to go on the scheme. Those works were badly needed but the Government should have funded the scheme from start to finish,” he added.
Deputy Mayor Ian Doyle said the scheme wasn’t “ideal” but has at least led to some participants gaining employment.
“The Gateway scheme provided a huge service to Cork County Council and municipal towns and districts. It wasn’t ideal but there has been a positive outcome,” he said.
Head of personnel at Cork County Council John Walsh said interviews are ongoing for the remaining 39 positions to be filled.
“Filling of these general operative positions is confined to former Gateway participants/existing employees in the first instance. 57 applications were received and interviews are currently underway,” he said.
A €400,000 sum left over from operating the scheme in Cork County Council’s 2017 budget will be allocated to roads maintenance in 2018.