Political row over Limerick unemployment numbers

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The Dole Que in Limerick on Tuesday. Pic. Brian Arthur/Press 22.THE latest unemployment statistics showing that the number of people at work is at its highest level since 2009, has sparked a political row among Limerick public representatives.

Local Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell has described the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for the live register as “extremely positive” and claims they provide concrete proof that the Government’s job creation policies are working.

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However, Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan, says that government TDs, and Kieran O’Donnell in particular, are “grasping at straws and turning to fantasy figures to support their claim that jobs are being delivered in Limerick City”.

Deputy O’Donnell stated that the standardised unemployment rate (SUR) for September  was 11.1 per cent, down from 11.2 per cent in August and from 11.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2014.

In unadjusted terms, he said, there were 370,050 people signing on the Live Register in September 2014 — representing an annual decrease of 38,620 (-9.5 per cent).

“Employment is at its highest level since 2009 and we are firmly on track to help create 100,000 jobs by 2016. The unemployment rate is now down to 11.1 per cent, from a peak of 15.1 per cent.

“The significant amount of jobs created in the last two years is no accident. The Government has set its stall on creating and implementing policies which are focused on job creation. The positive impact of the targeted measures in the tourism and construction sectors are a clear example that these policies are working,” he added.

However Cllr Quinlivan is adamant that any claims by Fine Gael that the drop on the live register is extremely positive is pure “fabrication”. The City North councillor believes that any drop in the live register is attributed to schemes like Gateway, JobBridge, the large amount of students attending third level and those faced to emigrate.

“Lack of jobs, precarious and part-time work, increased college and apprenticeship fees and cuts to Social Welfare have put an intolerable burden on young people’s personal and professional development. The effect of this is youth unemployment,” he said.

The one thing Deputy O’Donnell and Cllr Quinlivan agree on is the fact that more needs to be done to get people back into employment.

“While the figures are encouraging, far too many people are still out of work. We need to continue laying the foundation for jobs growth through the Action Plan for Jobs. This Government will continue to prioritise jobs growth,” said Deputy O’Donnell.

Cllr Quinlivan insists that Government intervention is needed to create real jobs and take families out of poverty and give young people a future.

“Unemployment actually increased during the first year of the Fine Gael/Labour Government and that is why all comparative unemployment figures provided by Government TDs since are from 2012. We need jobs not rhetoric”, he said.