TDs and Senators from all over Ireland turned out in force for an event in Dublin on Wednesday, 23rd January in Buswells Hotel, attended by representatives from ILDN’s 50 member local development companies
The aim of the ILDN event was to highlight concerns amongst local development companies about how proposed local government reforms could impact negatively on community-led local development.
John Walsh, Acting Chairperson of the ILDN, said: “We organised this event in Dublin to demonstrate to national politicians how concerned we are about the local government reform proposals. We were delighted with the political response to the event. Almost 150 TDs and Senators attended, and – generally – politicians were very willing to listen to our concerns and to offer us support.”
Speaking in the aftermath of the event, Brian Carty, Director of the ILDN said: “Our members outlined their concerns to their local politicians that the Government’s proposals for local government reform put vital services to communities at risk and seriously threaten the future of local development companies. These proposals could potentially wipe out 20 years of experience in the planning and delivery of local development programmes.
“Our sector currently employs approximately 2,000 people and delivers a range of labour market, enterprise and anti-poverty programmes in a way that is cost-effective and delivers value for money. If the local government reforms go ahead, our model of community-led local development will be destroyed; there will be job losses within local development companies; and local development companies will be forced to close”
Under the local government reform proposals, new structures – known as Socio-Economic Committees – would manage and disburse all local development funding, including future rounds of the LEADER and Local and Community Development Programmes, both of which are currently administered by local development companies. The new Committees would be led and administered by local authorities.
“Transferring the management of LEADER and the Local and Community Development Programme to the new Socio-Economic Committees would leave local development companies without any core funding,” said John Walsh. “This reform would basically result in decision-making and funding being removed from community-led bodies with a proven track record of success, and placed in the hands of local authorities.
“This makes absolutely no sense: the current system of local development in Ireland is viewed as a model of best practice at European level. The European Court of Auditors, for example, has strongly criticised the excessive involvement of local authorities in the implementation of LEADER in other countries, so it is unlikely the changes being proposed by the Government would be welcomed at European level.”
Local Development Companies present at the event welcomed the fact that Minister Hogan has agreed to discuss their concerns with ILDN over the coming weeks and stated their intentions to maintain ongoing contact with their local TDs and Senators in relation to this issue.