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Government defends record on tackling youth unemployment

Minister Richard Bruton ruled out the possibility of setting up a new Ministry with responsibility for youth employment.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

TAKING LEADERS’ QUESTIONS this morning, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton defended the government’s record on tackling youth unemployment.

“It is what gets us up in the morning,” he said, describing Ireland’s employment situation as a “central crisis” that is being dealt with.

“It is what drives ministers,” he added.

Responding to impassioned questioning from Independent Mattie McGrath, the Fine Gael TD said the coalition, along with a number of State agencies, have created innovative ways to ‘dramatically transform’ the economy since taking office in 2011.

“The truth is we inherited an economy that was losing 90,000 jobs per year…7,000 per month,” he outlined, adding that current figures show 2,000 new jobs are being recorded each month and that today’s live register fell for the 12th consecutive month.

Bruton ruled out the possibility – as mooted by McGrath – of the establishment of a new minister with sole responsibility for youth employment.

He said that Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has “set a high priority” on the issue and an agreement to release €6 billion in funding at European level has already been agreed.

Commenting on suggestions that Ireland should follow Italy with a scheme to encourage employers to take on younger workers, Bruton cited a new programme that is due to take effect this month.

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‘Jobs Plus’ will see businesses receive a cash subsidy of €72 per week for employing a person who has been on the dole for 12 months or longer.

In his follow-up, McGrath pleaded with government TDs to “stay in bed” if this is the “best they can do”. According to the Tipperary South deputy, young people across Ireland have lost the privilege of choice with almost all families impacted by emigration.

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