More than 500 people attended a SIPTU organised public meeting on the need to protect the operation of Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and Tús projects in the Travellers Friend Hotel in Castlebar, county Mayo, last night (Monday, 4th July). SIPTU Organiser, Clement Shevlin, said: “The RSS and Tús schemes provide many benefits to rural communities. However, their operation is being crippled by underfunding which is placing ever greater pressure on the schemes and the workers that provide them.   “The Government is not engaging with the real issues facing the operation of these schemes because it will not talk to worker representatives. The issues facing these schemes include the lack of a pay rise for scheme supervisors in the last 14 years. SIPTU representatives are calling on the Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, to immediately reconvene the forum that brought together employer organisations, government representatives and unions to discuss the future of RSS and Tús.”   SIPTU National Supervisors Committee Joint Chair, Sean Larkin, said: “These schemes support the operation of organisations such as the GAA, IFA, local charities, heritage projects, meals on wheels, Tidy Towns and many more. Workers providing these schemes are not looking for a handout, but a hand up, to continue supporting these organisations.”   Mayo Northeast Development Tús Supervisor, Elizabeth Fair, said; “Our Supervisors, participants and communities deserve meaningful engagement on these issues. We are calling on elected representatives to take up the fight for the future of these schemes.”   Addressing the meeting, SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “We are calling for meaningful talks with all stakeholders to find a solution to the problems facing RSS and Tús. Our membership is growing rapidly through our campaigning on these issues and we are building momentum that will bring the Government back to the table.”   Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary, who attended the meeting said: “I have organised for the SIPTU National Committee for RSS and Tús to attend Leinster House on Wednesday, 6th July, to discuss the issues they face with my party colleagues. These schemes are important to their communities. It would only cost €2.4 million to bring scheme supervisors’ pay in line with that of workers doing comparable roles, I feel this should be done without delay.”   Also in attendance was Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway Walsh, Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers and Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke.