Dáil Éireann - Volume 284 - 23 July, 1975

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Community Care Projects.

1. Mr. G. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health if the Government have considered the possibility of employing school leavers in community care projects while they are awaiting the opportunity of pursuing their chosen careers.

Minister for Health (Mr. Corish): The employment of school leavers in conjunction with the community care services coming within the ambit of my Department would be a matter for the health boards or for the voluntary agencies engaged in such activities.

Persons employed by health boards in the provision of community care services are generally professionally qualified and there would not appear to be much scope for school leavers in this sphere, particularly in the circumstances envisaged by the Deputy where their employment would be on a short-term temporary basis.

While voluntary agencies providing community care employ some professionally qualified staff most of them depend to a large extent on voluntary workers, and the activities of such agencies would probably offer greater scope for young persons. I would recommend that any such persons wishing to work in community care might contact one of the voluntary groups operating in the area in which he or she resides.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: In view of the fact that there are no funds available in health boards even to cope with current expenditure does the Minister not consider that his Department should offer an encouragement to young school leavers by allowing them mainly voluntary participation but perhaps with some form of remuneration to occupy them in the crucial [222] period they are going through with no employment opportunities?

Mr. Corish: The Deputy will appreciate that there are two sides of community care. One side is run by teams from the health boards. These are all professionally qualified, and school leavers would not fit into that category. As far as the voluntary care is concerned, it is voluntary in every sense of the word and no payment would be made, but I would advise the people to whom the Deputy refers to contact voluntary agencies to see whether they could be of help in voluntary community care.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Would the Minister not consider discussing this with the voluntary organisations or getting the health boards to do so and perhaps making some money available from his Department to help in this situation?

Mr. Corish: I think the Deputy is thinking in terms of their being paid. Is that right?

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is the Minister aware of the problem that exists for school leavers?

Mr. Corish: Yes.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Does he not think that in his Department, along with others, something should be done to meet it?

Mr. Corish: My concern is for the agencies that are established under the Health Act. As I have explained they would not fit in the first category, that is community care teams under the Department of Health. The only way they could come in would be under the voluntary scheme, and for that they would not get paid.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: I take it the Minister is saying:

There is nothing I can do for school leavers. I will have to leave those to somebody else.

Is that not what he is saying?

Mr. Corish: I cannot do it in this particular context.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 2.

[223] Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is there any context in which the Minister can?

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 2 has been called.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: Is the Minister aware that there are many school leavers idle and looking for jobs?

An Ceann Comhairle: I have allowed Deputy Fitzgerald a lot of latitude. He must be fair with the Chair.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: When the Chair calls the next question he will be obeyed by both sides of the House. Question No. 2.

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: There seems to be a complete lack of concern for these young people by everybody.

Mr. Corish: My position as Minister for Health——

An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Chair not be obeyed?

Mr. G. Fitzgerald: The Chair is always obeyed?

An Ceann Comhairle: I wish that were true.