Cuts threaten 650 jobs

Ashling Mackey

Ashling Mackey

A government TD and Seantor have angrily hit back at claims by Fianna Fail TD, Sean Fleming that up to 650 public service jobs in Portlaoise are to go over the next four years.

Deputy Fleming who is the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Sector Reform, said jobs would be lost through the non-replacement of staff who retire or leave their position.

However, both Charlie Flanagan TD and Seantor John Whelan rejected the claims saying he had plucked the figures from thin air and was playing politics with lives.

But Dep Fleming described as “shocking” the reduction in the number of public servants promised over the lifetime of the Government.

“The figures announced by Minister Brendan Howlin that 41,400 public servants will have left the public service by the end of 2015 are higher than anyone could have expected.”

Speaking to the Leinster Express, Deputy Fleming did not agree that the previous FF Government’s were responsible for these cuts.

“This is a whole new ball game. The EU/IMF said that the country was on track, these extra job cuts are not necessary. There is massive public sector employment in Portlaoise, this will effect home care workers, there will be reductions in the number of special needs assistants in classrooms, prison officers and nurses won’t be replaced when they leave.

Responding to Deputy Fleming’s remarks, Labour senator, John Whelan, said Fianna Fail were “scaremongering”.

“He is playing politics with people lives and livelihoods...It is accepted that the public service is top heavy, we need to concentrate on promoting and ring fencing front line services.

“We need to make sure that there are enough nurses in the wards, teachers in the classrooms and guards on the beat. The bottom line is that there are too many chief executives and not enough indians,” Sen Whelan said.

While, Fine Gael TD, Charlie Flanagan said Dep Fleming had “plucked these figures from the sky with no basis in fact.”

Deputy Flanagan said: “His statement, if taken seriously will worry already hardpressed families in Laois.

“Having sat on the FF benches wrecking the economy over the past 5 years Sean Fleming should be apologising to the people of Laois instead of frightening them. He is doing people a great disservice.” But Deputy Flanagan added that any redundancies sought will be by agreement and voluntary.