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Junior minister under fire over 'no work, no benefits' call

Shane McEntee’s suggestion that young people shouldn’t get welfare unless they join a work scheme has been labelled “hypocritical” by a youth group.

A social welfare office in Finglas, Dublin
A social welfare office in Finglas, Dublin
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A JUNIOR MINISTER’S suggestion that young people should not receive welfare payments unless they are in a work scheme has been branded “hypocritical” by a youth organisation.

James Doorley, assistant director of the National Youth Council, said that the majority of unemployed young people would prefer to be in training or work experience, but there were simply not enough places available.

“Ireland currently has 70,000 young people [under 25] on the Live Register, and 27,000 of them have been there for a year or more,” he told

The issue isn’t young people not wanting to take up training, it’s the Government failing to provide places. It’s a bit hypocritical for a Government minister to be criticising young people when the Government itself [has failed to act]. It’s not a one-way street.

Doorley was responding to comments made by McEntee, who told the Sunday Times: “No young person should be handed money to do nothing.”

He added that Ireland needed to return to a system where young people had to enter a work scheme in order to receive welfare payments.

McEntee’s comments came as social protection minister Joan Burton said “quite a number” of people have had their welfare payments reduced after refusing to accept “reasonable” job offers.

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But Doorley said McEntee’s proposal was only practical if placements were available. “We are constantly getting calls from young people saying training courses are oversubscribed,” he said.

The National Youth Council has previously called for the establishment of a scheme whereby any young person unemployed for six months or more would be guaranteed a place on a work experience or training scheme. However, Doorley said this would require significant extra Government funding.

Referring to the welfare system, Burton told RTÉ’s This Week: “The person who is unemployed has a responsibility to go back to work or back to education if possible. The Government has a responsibility [to support those people].”

Read: Airport and rent inspectors will be used to combat welfare fraud>

Column: Our welfare system is broken. We can fix it… by paying everybody>

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Michael Freeman

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