Galway Rural Development was praised for presenting to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Social Care, Communities and Rural Development and the Islands last week.
The Committee spent much of Wednesday and Thursday examining the challenges that Tús and the Rural Social Regime currently face and the call for collective discussions to resolve these issues.
Clement Shevlin, Strategic Organizer of SIPTU, thanked Galway Rural Development’s RSS and Tús Officers for delivering what he described as “a very concise and thought-provoking input” to the Dáil committee.
Speaking to the Committee, Liz Macdonald, Rural Social Program Supervisor at the GRD, said that the RSS is a unique program that provides financial support to low-income farmers to sustain themselves and in return they contribute enormously to the groups rural.
“It was important to express its value in rural Ireland so that TDs understood both the issues and the potential of the scheme,” she said.
“Tús too is such an invaluable program. Benefits of both programs for participants include stable income, improved mental health and well-being, and training and development, while simultaneously providing direct benefits to local communities by enabling participants to support organizations charities and communities to maintain their services.
This view was shared by the Senior Director of RSS and Tús Programs at GRD, Sean Broderick.
“Today was an important day and we were proud to represent the interests of community groups, rural residents and our participants.
“It is important that schemes receive the support they deserve and that supervisors of these schemes have adequate supports, salaries and conditions.”
Commenting for GRD after the meeting, Sean Larkin pointed out that GRD is one of the largest program operators in the country, so feel an acute responsibility to highlight areas needing intervention.
Among these is the need to expand the rules on the schemes to allow for greater participation, thereby allowing greater contribution back to communities.
Questions about the remuneration and conditions of supervisors and participants were also raised.
“The role of supervisors on RSS and Tús schemas has grown over the years, and with it the amount of administration required has increased,” Sean said.
“This increase in workload is not reflected in compensation and that needs attention.”
The areas of retirement, maternity leave, etc. were also discussed.