Government systems to assist the unemployed find work are failing to help those who need it most, an Oireachtas committee was told.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University said the current system was forcing different organisations, who should be cooperating, to compete against one another.

She said the current system, which had been partially privatised, could see long-term unemployed people forced into precarious low paid work, because organisations were paid on their results.

Dr Murphy queried whether the aim of the system was to get people off welfare in the short term, or to deliver a better quality of life over a longer timeframe.  

She described the current system as "male breadwinner activation", noting that men take up three quarters of all activation or employment support places.

She was particularly critical of the failings of the system in relation to lone parents and people with disabilities.

Joan O'Donnell of the Disabilities Federation of Ireland said 133,929 adults of working age were on disability allowance, but that number was rising by 32,000 year on year.

She stressed that people were not choosing to live like this, but that many who had supports such as technology and personal assistants during school had those supports withdrawn when they left education.

She noted that while unemployment had fallen from 13.9% in 2013 to 8.6% in 2016, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities had not improved.

David Lysaght, who has a disability, told the committee that at one interview with a Government agency, when he had got a job, the interviewer suggested that he might not be capable of doing the job.

He said that he was not looking for special treatment. He just wanted an opportunity to give back to society and be part of society.

Sinn Féin TD John Brady criticised the privatised model of employment support, while Independent Senator Alice Mary Higgins voiced concerns that it could give rise to "cherrypicking" of easier cases to boost results.