Fine Gael Cork North Central Deputy, Dara Murphy TD, has today (Friday) called for legislation to be prioritised to ensure that opportunities to work at polling and count stations are given to the unemployed during election time.
“The Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, has, in the past, encouraged Local Returning Officers to consider employing the unemployed at polling stations and count centres at election and referendum time. I believe, however, that there is a need to go further by legislating to ensure that Returning Officers are making a genuine effort to do just that.
“There is still an unacceptably high number of people on the Live Register and while the Government is making every effort to develop an environment in which jobs can be created, we need to be as creative as possible in identifying job opportunities where they exist.
"If a legal requirement existed for a quota of unemployed people to be given work at every count and polling centre in the country, it would put the onus on Returning Officers to ensure that calls from the Minister do not fall on deaf ears.
“I am asking Minister Hogan to review policy in this area and to add strength to his calls by introducing legislation to give priority to unemployed candidates in search of work. Of course, cognisance needs to be given to ensuring that all candidates chosen are sufficiently skilled so that the conduct of polls and the count is not compromised. Clearly, there would need to be a number of experienced staff at polling stations and count centres to allow for continuity, but there is no reason why between a third and a half of the staff employed could not be taken from the Live Register.
“By legislating in this way we will ensure a more open, fair and transparent procedure for the recruitment of staff, while giving an opportunity to work to those who seek it.”