YFG - Priorities for Young Ireland
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YFG - Priorities for Young Ireland



Young Fine Gael's Priorities for Young Ireland policy document

Young Fine Gael's Priorities for Young Ireland policy document



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YFG - Priorities for Young Ireland YFG - Priorities for Young Ireland Document Transcript

  • PRIORITIESfor Young Ireland
  • InTroduCTIonThis document lays out Young Fine Gael’s priorities for Young Ireland. Young people areamongst the worst hit by the recession created by the economic mismanagement of the CONTENTSlast government. We believe the stemming of youth emigration and the creation of jobs is,and must continue to be, the first priority of the Government. With the most recent CSO Department of Agriculture,report showing that 18% of unemployed people in Ireland are under 25 years of age, we Food and the Marinesimply must stem the flow of emigration abroad that is a result of the numbers of youngpeople who cannot find work. Department of Children and Youth AffairsWe in YFG, and young people generally, support the policy of reducing our budget deficit Department of Educationbecause we know that if the problem is not solved, it is young people who will be saddled and Skillswith the financial consequences for the rest of our lives. However, there are other aspectsto growing up and living in Ireland that cannot be fixed through fiscal consolidation or by Department ofpassing a law. Environment, Community and Local GovernmentNo poll will enumerate the impact that negative attitudes inherent in current publicdiscourse are having on young people, especially when combined with the twinned Department of Healthplagues of unemployment and financial difficulty. Many young people who still have jobsare deciding to leave this country simply because of the sense of gloom and doom that Department of Jobs,pervades our current national identity and our sense of the future. Enterprise and Innovation Department of PublicRaising the spirit of our people will have as much impact on our economy than an Expenditure and Reformencyclopaedia of policy papers. One way of doing this is by keeping direct taxes as lowas possible. The psychological impact of raising income taxes affects the attitude and Department of Socialbehaviour of people who are both employed and unemployed. Young people will stay in ProtectionIreland if they believe that they will have a fair chance of getting work and will be rewardedfor their hard work.Another crucial element of recovery is the fundamental reform in the way our governmentworks, how public services are delivered and how government interacts with business. Wemust never see the return of government by the combined forces of neglect, complacencyand blind consensus - as was evidenced in the version of Social Partnership the previousgovernment chose to implement. This trio of negative governing, as manifested by SocialPartnership, left us with legacies which the current government and future generations willhave to deal with. Failure to deal with the inefficiencies of government will inevitably leadto higher taxes and charges than is planned.This document details where Young Fine Gael stands on the issues we feel have thegreatest impact on the young people of today and how their future in Ireland can bechanged for the better.We will be making special presentations to the Department for Children and Youth Affairsand to the Department for Education and Skills in coming months to further outline manyideas our members have about how these Department can better serve young people.We have presented this to all Government Ministers, TDs and Senators and we hope theytake our views into consideration as we fix Ireland, not just the young, but for all of us.
  • deparTmenT of and can continue to be so. However, “red tape” and unnecessary bureaucracy in all forms and guises dampens growth in all industries, agrICulTure, food particularly so in agriculture. The vast majority of farmers are soleand The marIne traders and the amount of their time allocated to completing forms and providing paperwork for inspections would not be tolerated by anyAgriculture and food exports were worth almost other industry.over €9bn in 2010. It is one of the largestgrowth areas in the Irish economy, creating jobs It is imperative that inspections be carried out with the very minimumon farms and in factories nationwide. In recent number of farm visits. This is one area that the Government hasdecades, our industry has grown and changed complete control over and that it should be dealt with as a priority issue.to incorporate the agri-food industry, whichbuilds upon our world-class reputation for foodingredients, and adds value to food products forexport. The best facet of the agri-food industry isthat it is labour intensive and thus creates a large deparTmenT of ChIldrennumber of jobs both directly and indirectly. and YouTh affaIrSThe following areas of a particular concern to We fully support and look forward to the referendum on children’syoung people involved in the industry and we rights. This is one of the most important referendums that will gobelieve the Government should focus on these: before the people, and which will give the State the tools to deal with cases of abuse quickly and properly. Proper child protection and clear reporting procedures must be introduced and implemented, and,Young Farmer InItIatIves moreover, must become a cultural norm in our society.7% of farmers in this country are under the ageof 35 but the numbers of young people wanting The excellent work of social workers must be better supported, fundedto farm for a living is increasing. We believe that and managed than has been the case in recent years. YFG believes thatit is important that the necessary resources be the government must work to ensure that social workers in Irelandallocated to the training colleges to be able to work to international best practise, including the work loadmeet the current high demand for agriculture-related courses. New entrants are absolutelyessential to rejuvenating the industry and toreversing the current age structure within theindustry to ensure that young farmers play their deparTmenT of eduCaTIonpart. It is vital that younger people enter farming and SKIllSso that farms are modernised so that theywork to optimal capacity, making 21st century Investmentstandards universal across this country and YFG welcomes the commitment by the government towards thehelping to create a thriving agri-food economy investment in new schools and in education infrastructure. Over theto sustain future generations. next five years, the Government will spend €2.2 billion on capital expenditure. All this funding is needed to build new and re-developCaP Post-2013 primary and secondary schools in order to create the capacity forYFG recognise the commitment of the Minister 80,000 school places, all of which will be needed to meet demandfor Agriculture to CAP and to the re-negotiations created by increased birth rate in recent years.which will come in the near future. Thesenegotiations will be tough, with many countries All too often, valid concerns about the funding of third-level educationseeking reductions in CAP spending. We ask the drown out the debate about funding primary and secondary education.Government to focus particularly on allocating Everybody attends primary and secondary level; we do not all go tofunding within CAP towards young, trained and college. Moreover, we have real problems in literacy and numeracy inactive farmers. this country which must be a priority in our education system.regulatIonFarming is not a hobby – it is an industry and How to Fund tHIrd levelone of the best this country deals in. We are Irish universities need to ensure that graduates are getting high qualityworld leaders in agriculture and agri-food degrees that prepare them for that highly competitive jobs market they
  • are entering. It is therefore imperative that Irish For example, there are currently five Colleges of Education for primaryuniversities make progress in international league teachers in Ireland and four of these are concentrated in Dublin. Wetables and perform at the highest level possible. believe that the Dublin colleges should be consolidated to get betterWhen in opposition, Fine Gael proposed (and value for money, reduce the overlap between the colleges and theYFG supported) the proposal of a graduate tax administrative cost of running separate institutions, which is substantial.as an alternative to increased fees. We believe that the pay and conditions of employees of the thirdUnfortunately, since the day that the EU/IMF level sector needs to be benchmarked against similar posts in Europe.came into Ireland, our country has had no access Increasing the up-front graduate contribution as a stand-alone actionto international funding, which has rendered this will not solve the funding gap for third level because, the more theoption unworkable because the graduate tax government charge in fees, the fewer that will be able to afford toproposal could only work when the State could attend third level education.afford to borrow funding up front. PrIvate FundIngAn important target for both government There is a continuing need for universities to generate fundingparties was to avoid increasing third level fees. independent of Government support. Cooperation with private industry provides an avenue to develop new markets and new jobs forPrevious studies show that, in order to maintain graduates while also providing opportunities for universities to gainstandards in third level education for the research and development funding.increasing numbers of students annually, moreand more funding will be required by the third- Further to this, universities need to help ensure greater availabilitylevel education sector, even at a time of large of the financial support through providing organised financing atcutbacks by the government. We do not want affordable levels for students. This is a common measure amongany potential increases in fees to be the only universities in the UK, Northern Ireland and the US and needs to beway in which this funding gap is filled and if more broadly available among universities here.fees increase, they cannot be increased straightacross the board because this treats every QualItYstudent and their families the same. There is a continuing need for greater focus by universities on specific sectors so as to be able to provide relevant support to students andYFG would support a system where students pay graduates. This will provide those interested in starting businesses withback a major part of the cost of putting them the most relevant expertise for the sector they wish to focus on.through third level after they graduate. However, There is also a need for greater emphasis on the provision of relevantwe do not know if the country can afford to working experience to be incorporated into degree programmes priorimplement such a system at present, as we are to graduation.currently in receivership and have no access tofunding on the market. Like other countries, enterPrIse as a seCond level subjeCtthe government could implement a studentloan scheme, but the question still remains as to Curriculum reform must take into account what our economywhether we can afford it. needs in future generations. Our future entrepreneurs and business creators must be facilitated and educated to foster and grow talent intHe elePHant In tHe room business and job creation. YFG believes that second level subjects like Business Studies at Junior Certificate level, Business Organisation andThe pay levels of all employed in the third Accountancy at Leaving Certificate level are not adequate to developlevel system are frozen under the Croke Park the skills entrepreneurs need in our society and our economy.Agreement. We must recognise that lecturersemployed in Irish universities are some of the sPeCIal needs assessment Inbest paid in Europe and benefit from some of our eduCatIon sYstemthe best conditions of employment. The ongoing delays and waiting lists for children to be assessed forThere must be greater focus on the special needs within our education system has created a two-tierrationalisation of internal universities structures education system. Some parents can afford assessment and can get theso as to provide the most effective service for assistance their children need, while other families have to watch theirstudents, and the best possible value for the children fall behind on basic skills, waiting to be assessed. Valuable timeinvestment each student and their families make. is lost for these children and this should not be acceptable. YFG suggests
  • that the appropriate number of psychologists are council, the National Roads Authority or other statutory bodies. Inhired on temporary contracts for 2012 to clear many historic towns, the area for which the town council has hadthis backlog, so that all children get the help they responsibility is now too small to warrant their existence.need without having to wait for the assessmentprocess to take its long course. As it currently stands, all but three Town Councils have 9 elected members (three Town Councils have 12 members, the same number asnew teaCHers the five Borough councils). This has led to the situation where very largeYFG supports all moves by the government to towns (like Naas or Ennis) elect the same number of Town Councillorsprioritise newly qualified teachers for temporary, as small towns (like Bundoran or Granard).relief, maternity leave and sick-leave work, ratherthan using retired teachers for these roles. In reality, many town councillors are elected to both town council and county council. We believe that area committees on the relevant county councils can perform the functions of town councils more effectively and in a more cost effective way – delivering value for money, without duplication of role. deparTmenT of enVIronmenT, CommunITY We believe that as part of the reform of local government, all Townand loCal goVernmenT Councils should be abolished.loCal government reForm –abolIsH town CounCIlsThe Government has commenced a longoverdue review of how local government deparTmenT of healThis organised and run, which has led to theamalgamation of some county councils. CYstIC FIbrosIsYFG are heartened by these moves andencourages the government to continue with We call for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) care to be improved. Recentthese reforms. developments in CF care in Ireland are positive, like the introduction of universal screening of newborns to diagnose CF as early as possible.The work carried out by local authorities on a However, great strides in the supports and services for Cystic Fibrosisdaily basis has a huge impact on people’s quality patients must continue to be a priority in our healthcare system.of life and it is incumbent on us to design the Recent reports that Cork University Hospital’s CF unit now treats 100%most efficient local government service. more patients than the capacity original planned proves the need for improved services. With a 10 year gap in life expectation for CF patientsThe structure of local government has changed in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we must look carefullyvery little since the foundation of the state and about how to improve our system. The moratorium on recruitment ofin the case of local town councils, many were physiotherapists has prevented CF patients from getting the essentialfounded on the basis of demographics that physiotherapy they need and this must be rectified. Single bedroomsare now centuries out-of-date. The priorities for inpatients in hospitals must be available rather than beds onand responsibilities of local government children’s wards or adult’s wards to prevent CF patients becoming morehave radically changed since this system was ill while in hospital.originally designed.We believe that town councils are an mental HealtHanachronism which are no longer needed in YFG call on the government to implement the commitment to spendmodern Ireland and so we believe that the 8.4% of the health budget on mental health as part of the “Vision forgovernment should abolish many of these Change” strategy. We oppose any reduction in the proportion of thecouncils and merge their functions into the health budget that is spent on mental health.relevant county or city council. Underinvestment in mental health resulted, according the Mental Health Commission, in 200 young people under 18 being admitted toOver time, many of the powers and adult units in 2009. The most recent research has found that a suicideresponsibilities of town councils have been attempt is made every 45 minutes in Ireland.stripped away and granted to the county
  • In 2009 we saw a 25% increase in the rate An increase in awareness of digital technology in schools is important and aof suicide in Ireland from 424 deaths in 2008 similar structure to the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition shouldto 527. Yet given these frightening statistics, be introduced to encourage students to study in the field. The aim of agovernment spending on mental health services policy initiative like this must be to further Ireland’s reputation as a world-has decreased by nearly 25% in that last five renowned innovator in digital technology and specifically in digital gaming.years, standing at 5.3% of the total health We must ensure that we create an environment where creativity as well asbudget, down from 6.9% in 2005. entrepreneurship is encouraged and maintained.sugar tax Cloud ComPutIngWe believe the introduction of a sugar tax is an Ireland is particularly suited to cloud computing because of the lowimportant measure to deal with the growing variance in our climate. The government should work with technologylevels of obesity in Ireland. In the Growing Up firms to invest in server space.in Ireland report launched by Ministers Reillyand Fitzgerald this month, statistics show that start-uPs26% of 9-year-olds have a body-mass index This government must support start-ups of new business and must put inclassed as unhealthy. This is one of the biggest place the necessary supports for new business and small business to survivecrises facing our healthcare system in the and create jobs in the future.future, and introducing a sugar tax can help tochange behaviour and eating habits so that this sICk leaveepidemic is avoided. We oppose any proposal that employers, rather than the state, would be responsible for paying for sick leave. This would be an unfair burden on employers that does not recognise the considerable amount paid in PRSI for each employee. deparTmenT of JoBS, enTerprISeand InnoVaTIon deparTmenT of puBlICdIgItal gamIng eXpendITureS and reformDigital gaming as an industry is growing andgiven Ireland’s attractiveness as a digital hub we PublIC seCtor reForm and tHebelieve that this should be fostered by making Croke Park agreementIreland a market leader in this industry. The As a result of the previous government’s complete incompetence, thiskey to success in the digital gaming industry is country and the current government are chained to the constraints of theinnovation, we believe that by encouraging and EU/IMF agreement. This government is also constrained by the conditionssupporting entrepreneurs in this field we can laid down under the Croke Park Agreement. Both Fine Gael and Labourbecome a market leader in digital gaming. went into the last election stating they were in favour of implementing the Agreement.The location of the European headquarters ofGoogle, Facebook and Twitter further show PublIC servICe PaY and entItlementsthat Ireland is becoming a centre of excellencewhen it comes to digital technology. In order The Agreement states that the pay or conditions of employment of allto become a world leader in digital gaming, public servants shall not be changed during the term of the AgreementIreland must produce an environment in which (2010–2014).The agreement also provides that the position of publicinnovation and creativity is fostered. We believe service pay is reviewed in the spring of each year of the Agreement. Inthis will be possible through a number of the event of a change in public service pay, the first priority should be toavenues such as: an Innovation Fund to invest preserve the pay levels of this on €35,000 or less.in start-up gaming companies; a presence ona University campus to encourage and foster Under Section 28 of the agreement, the government has the right toinnovation in this area; an increase in awareness re-negotiate the Agreement if the country’s fiscal position deteriorates.of the Digital Hub and an enlargement of this The fiscal position of the State has patently deteriorated since the lastproject to allow entrepreneurs and innovators to government signed off on the Agreement in 2010.start a business in a centre of excellence.
  • YFG believes that the pay and pension essential and systems similar to PAYE online systems should be introducedentitlements of those at the upper tier of the for all government departments.public service is unacceptable. We also do notbelieve that the pension levy can be considered Quangosas a pay-cut, but simply as a contribution towards The government must focus energy on rationalising Quangos in Ireland,the most generous of pensions that public which do not deliver value for money for taxpayers.servants receive when they retire. We believethat there should be a review of pay and pension ProCuremententitlements for all public servants and retired Centralised procurement for the Department of Health and the publicpublic servants earning in excess of €100,000. sector in general should be pursued and it must be a priority to follow proper procurement procedures at all times.We believe that one of the most importantcommitments made is that to drive down absenteeIsmthe costs of other benefits and entitlementsrelating to sick leave, flexitime and in allowances Levels of absenteeism within the public service have been a considerableand expenses. concern to public service management and must be tackled as part of a revised Croke Park Agreement. Recent reports from the HSE that changesPublIC servICe PerFormanCe to the procedures around absentee days have seen improvements in Donegal and these changed procedures should be rolled out across the HSEWe believe that one of the most important and public service.elements of the Government’s plan for publicservice reform is the design of a system to tackleunderperformance in the public service bymid-2012. We believe that this must include aradical and fundamental change to the system deparTmenT of SoCIalof performance evaluation within the entire proTeCTIonpublic service. Recent reports show that theperformance evaluation system used in the civil PensIonsservice grants comparatively generous reviews ofemployee performance when compared to the We acknowledge that the society has an interest in encouraging privateprivate sector. pensions through the tax system. However, the tax expenditure for pension contributions is the costliest to the state in terms of revenue not collected.The system whereby managers and senior public Reducing the credit to apply at the standard rate of 20% rather than theservants evaluate their employees must be marginal rate of 41% would be a considerable saving to the state, whilecompletely transparent and all increments should still providing an incentive to save for a pension of up to e50,000. Thisbe tied to these reviews and these reviews would not prevent people from contributing for a higher sum, it wouldalone. The current system whereby increments simply not be specifically encouraged by the state.are granted based on years of service runscompletely contrary to the idea of an efficient welFare and taxesand well organised public service. We believe Over the next two years, the functions of Revenue and the Departmentthat only those who have demonstrated an of Social Protection in relation to taxation and benefits should beability to provide a service to the State and the coordinated, and merged if possible. This would allow system to be putpeople should be entitled to increments. in place to prevent welfare traps by paying benefits through the tax code. Accumulated benefits currently mean that someone could be better off one-government benefits than working. It would also allow for the taxation of child benefit,The efficiency and value offered by treating it as income divided between both parents. It is a clear example ofE-Government has been ignored by successive a needless inefficiency in government administration that these functionsgovernments over a number of years. Fine are duplicated.Gael has proposed, and YFG supports, theimportance of a One Stop Shop in dealing withincome, means testing, and entitlements. UsingE-Government for this One Stop Shop will be