The challenge to the result of last November’s Childrens Referendum is still wending its way through the courts after the Supreme Court held that the Government had unlawfully promoted one side in the debate. You might recall at the time all the lip service paid to making a special effort to positively discriminate in favour of the unemployed when appointing temporary workers to administer the referendum; this, coming from a Government that has placed job creation at the heart of its policies, or so it says.
Four months later, we have provision figures which show that out of the 11,654 people employed for the polling and counting, just 3,328 were “unemployed”. So in a country, which in November 2012 had a Live Register of 420,000 and unemployment estimated at over 320,000, we only managed to fill 321 of 1,603 counting positions for example with someone from the Live Register.
The figures emerged yesterday, in a response by Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan to a parliamentary question from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty. It relates to just 35 of the 43 constituencies so the numbers may change when they have a final tally, though why it takes four months to produce such a tally is unclear.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin was also asked about the numbers employed and his reponse was even less helpful, simply saying “the information requested is not available at this time”
You can’t help but think that this Government, on this day in particular when the latest job creation commitment is given, is just not serious in its deeds when it comes to promoting employment. Although the roles in the Referendum were temporary, in some cases, lasting just a day, the small boost by focusing on the unemployed,particularly in the run-up to Christmas would have made it clear that this Government put its deeds where its mouth is. Instead, we still had second jobbers getting most of the work. Shame.
The questions and response are here.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 431 of 20 November 2012 and 691 of 6 November 2012, if he will provide the total of the persons employed in the following roles in the Children’s Referendum who were immediately previously unemployed or on the live register, Special Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers and Area Inspectors, Poll Clerks, Count Supervisors, Count Calculators and Counters.
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan: Based on information provided to my Department by Returning Officers for 35 out of 43 constituencies, the total number of staff employed at the referendum in November 2012 was 11,654, of which 28.6% were unemployed. The details for the 35 constituencies are set out in the following table.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 294 of 20 November 2012 and 691 of 6 November 2012, if he will provide the total number of persons employed in the following roles in the Children’s Referendum, Special Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers and Area Inspectors, Poll Clerks, Count Supervisors, Count Calculators, Counters.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin : The information the deputy has requested is not available at this time. The Children’s Referendum was held on the 10th November, 2012. Returning Officers are required to submit their accounts for the Children’s Referendum to the Minister for Finance not later than six months after the date on which any poll was conducted.