Obstacles such as the lack of a comprehensive public transport system and adequate childcare provision are acting as barriers to prevent the jobless from getting work in Fermanagh.

This District Council area remains particularly disadvantaged, experiencing higher than average levels of unemployment in terms of those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance. Of all the district Council areas, Enniskillen ranks fourth-highest at 4.7 per cent unemployment after Derry, Strabane and Belfast.

A conference held last week at the Killyhevlin Hotel examined rural unemployment and the impact of the border on unemployment. As many as 60 delegates came from all over Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to debate issues of importance to unemployed people.

In addition to inadequate transport and childcare, lack of jobs has also been a barrier facing jobless people in rural areas, explained Mrs. Cathy Kelly of the Organisation of the Unemployed: Northern Ireland (OUNI) which hosted the conference.

In a rural area like Fermanagh, for every job there are seven people seeking it, the conference heard.

The demise of traditional textile jobs, with few opportunities to replace these jobs in significant numbers, perplexed delegates, although there was a welcome for the announcement from QUINN-direct last week.

Pictured at the OUNI annual delegate conference held in the Killyhevlin Hotel are (from left) Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary, Irish Congress Trade Unions; Eric Conroy, General Secretary, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed; Mary Gilbride, Enniskillen Community Development Project; Barrie McLatchie, OUNI Chairman; Lynn Carvill, Organisation for the Unemployed, NI; and Patricia Maye, Enniskillen Community Development Project.