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"Long dole queues deny people their dignity" 17.09.08

INISHOWEN councillor Pádraig MacLochlainn has described the temporary closure last week of a backlogged Social Welfare office as evidence of the county's deepening unemployment crisis.
He described the problem as "predictable" given the large queues outside offices in Letterkenny and Buncrana in recent times.
And the Sinn Féin representative repeated his party’s call for Donegal-based Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan to outline her Government’s plan to revitalise her home county's economy.
Cllr Mac Lochlainn said: “Thousands of Donegal people are facing into an uncertain future having to sign on the dole with no hope of getting a job in the near future due to the unstable employment scenario facing us."
Almost 4,000 people have signed on the Live Register in Donegal in the last year. At 13,000, unemployment levels are at their highest levels ever.
The Buncrana-based councillor called for a Government strategy to stabilise the economy in the short term.
"It must also introduce measures to support those who have been hit hardest and should ensure that those people who have lost their jobs are not further penalised with the rising fears of having their homes repossessed.
"People’s dignity must be protected.
Councillor Pádraig MacLochlainn.
Scenes of large crowds queuing outside Social Welfare offices should be avoided at all costs. If more staff are needed to process unemployment claims, that should be resolved immediately."
Cllr MacLochlainn said people who found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, should "not be made to feel like beggars".
"After all during their working period they have paid their taxes and contributions to the State and it's now time for the State to repay that good work. Members of the public must be afforded respect at all times.
"The Government must put in place a strategy to get these people back to work we cannot as a nation have these proven productive and diligent workers on the dole, and we certainly don’t want to go back to the bad old days of exporting our greatest assets, our people," he added.
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