South West Mayo Development Company (SWMDC) is delighted to announce that it has won the National Rural Award 2014 for its work in sustaining rural communities in south and west Mayo. The National Rural Awards are in their ninth year and are organised by Irish Rural Link, the national group campaigning for sustainable rural communities. These awards recognise the hard work and dedication of community groups in improving and developing rural communities around the country.
“SWMDC is honoured to have been recognised by an independent panel as a group who has enhanced the quality of rural life in the communities that we serve”, said Gerry O’Neill, CEO of SWMDC. He went on to add; “Independent community-based voluntary organisations have been recognised nationally and internationally as having a deep impact on rural society. We have been working in rural development for the past twenty years and are delighted to be acknowledged as a shining example of grassroots development.”
Chair of SWMDC, Michael Biggins also welcomed the news that SWMDC has won a National Rural award. He went on to point out that the future of SWMDC continues to hang in the balance due to Minister Phil Hogan’s plan to move the work of local development companies (such as SWMDC) under the control of local authorities. A year on from when a thousand people came out in force to show their support for SWMDC at two public meetings “the threat to SWMDC remains, with a real risk that the expertise that the staff and voluntary board have built up over the past twenty years will be lost to local communities”.
He urged all to contact their local politicians to ensure that future contracts for local development programmes remain with the groups that have a proven track record. “After all”, he added, “in a time when every cent counts, it makes sense to stick with the tried and tested model. There is no one more qualified or experienced than SWMDC to deliver community development programmes in Mayo”
Tá imní léirithe ag ionadaithe ó cheithre Chuideacht Forbartha áitiúla i nGaillimh, Comhar na nOileán, Forum Connemara, Galway Rural Development agus Galway City Partnership faoi athchóiriú rialtais áitiúil. Tá imní ar leith ar dhaoine go mbeidh droch-thionchar ar sheirbhísí ar an talamh má aistrítear an dá chlár is mó a chuireann siad ar fáil, is iad sin an Clár Forbartha Pobail Áitiúil agus an Clár Forbartha Tuaithe (LEADER) go Comhairlí Chontae agus Chathair na Gaillimhe. Tá 84 fostaithe ag na cuideachtaí seo le réimse leathan seirbhísí pobail a sholáthair, agus tá 645 eile fostaithe acu ar scéimeanna Tús, ar an Scéim Sóisialta Tuaithe agus ar scéimeanna eile nach iad, agus tá éiginnteacht anois ann maidir lena dtodhchaí.
Dúirt Cathaoirleach Galway City Partnership, Margaret O Riada: “ Má aistrítear an Clár Forbartha Pobail Áitiúil chuig coiste de chuid na Comhairle Cathrach, ní bheidh glór neamhspleách na hearnála pobail le cloisteáil agus beidh sé i bhfad níos deacra orainn freastal ar riachtanais ár bpobal féin. Má chuirtear conarthaí amach chun tairisceana, tá an chontúirt ann go dtabharfaidh an stát tús áite do bhrabús comhlachtaí príobháideacha, seachas do riachtanais an phobail”
Dúirt Tom Madden, Cathaoirleach Galway Rural Development: “Tá breis agus fiche bliain caite ag baill Bhoird na gcuideachtaí seo ag obair go deonach le cinntiú go bhfaigheadh ár mbailte agus ár sráidbhailte riar cothrom de chistí, go mbeadh na cistí sin infheistithe sa chaoi is go mbeadh leas ag ár bpobal astu, bíodh sé sin trí fhostaíocht nó trí sheirbhísí a chuirtear ar fáil. Má aistrítear na cláir seo chuig an gComhairle Chontae, ní bhainfear leas as an taithí fhairsing atá againn, as an eolas cuimsitheach, as an tuiscint áitiúil atá againn agus an paisean atá againn dár bpobail féin”
Dúirt Terry Keenan, Cathaoirleach FORUM Connemara:“Má dhéantar seo, cuirfear 84 post sa chontae i mbaol, postanna daoine a bhfuil saineolas bailithe acu thar na mblianta, daoine a bhfuil cairdeas cruthaithe acu le cliaint agus le pobail éagsúla thar timpeall an chontae. Thar na blianta, tá tacaíocht tugtha againn do na céadta gnólacht bheaga, d’fheirmeoirí agus do ghrúpaí pobail faoin gclár Leader. Má chaileann muid an dá chlár seo, tá an chontúirt ann nach mbeidh muid in ann coinneáil orainn agus go gcuirfí postanna na 645 duine atá fostaithe again ar scéimeanna i mbaol freisin.”
D’iarr Majella Ní Chríocháin, Príomhoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin Chomhar na nOileán orthu siúd uile a mbaineann úsáid as na seirbhísí a chuireann na cuideachtaí ar fáil sa chontae tacú leo agus iad ag iarraidh go bhfágfar na cláir seo faoi chúram na gcuideachtaí forbartha áitiúla.
“Beidh tionchar aige seo ar na mílte duine sa chontae, orthu siúd uile a bhaineann úsáid as na seirbhísí a chuireann muid ar fáil, iadsan a fhaigheann deontais, nó comhairle, nó tacaíocht eile uainn. Is Cuma má tá tú i do chónaí in Inis Mór nó i nGort Inse Guaire, i gCamus, sa Chlochán nó i Seantalamh, beidh tionchar aige seo ar phostanna agus ar sheirbhísí i do cheantar. Tá muid ag iarraidh go dtacfaidh daoine linn agus go bhfágfar cinntí agus seirbhísí áitiúla faoi chúram na gcuideachtaí forbartha áitiúla, ar as an bpobal iad na foirne agus na baill Bhoird, a oibríonn ar son an phobail agus ar a son amháin.”
Deir na cuideachtaí nach sabháilfear aon airgead má aistrítear na cláir seo, toisc go bhfuil costais foirne sna cuideachtaí forbartha áitiúla níos isle ná costais foirne incomparáideach sna comhairlí contae agus cathrach.
Tá billeog eolais faoi na ceisteanna seo réitithe ag an nGréasan Um Fhorbairt Aitiúil (Irish Local Development Network (ILDN)) a dhéanann ionadaíocht ar son na gcuideachtaí forbartha áitiúla ar fud na tíre, agus iarrtar ar dhaoine na ceisteanna seo a phlé le hionadaithe agus le hiarrthóirí sna toghcháin atá ag teacht: http://ildn.ie/news/what-do-local-government-reforms-mean-for-communities
Four Local Development Companies in Galway, Comhar na nOileán, Forum Connemara, Galway Rural Development and Galway City Partnership have expressed their concerns over proposed local government reforms. They are particularly concerned that the proposal to transfer two core programmes they deliver, the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) and the Rural Development Programme (LEADER), to Galway City & County Councils will impact negatively on the delivery of services on the ground. There are 84 people employed directly by these companies to provide a range of community supports, with a further 645 employed on Tús, RSS and other schemes, and all now face an uncertain future.
Chair of Galway City Partnership, Margaret O Riada said: “The proposal to transfer the Local and Community Development Programme to a committee of the City council will erode the independent voice of the community sector and reduce our ability to respond to our communities’ needs. In proposing to put future contracts out to open tender, the state is also in danger of putting the profit of private companies above meeting community needs.”
Tom Madden, Chair of Galway Rural Development, said: “Many other members of the Boards of these companies and I have worked as volunteers for the last twenty years in order to ensure that our villages and our towns get a fair share of funds, that those funds are invested in such a way as to ensure that our communities are supported and benefit, whether through services or employment. Our combined experience, our local knowledge and the passion we have for our communities will be lost if these programmes are transferred to the county council.”
Terry Keenan, Chair of FORUM Connemara, said: “These proposals threaten the employment of 84 people in the county, people who have over the last twenty years built up expertise and good relationships with clients and community groups throughout the county. We have supported hundreds of small businesses, famers, and community groups over the years under the Leader programme. If we lose these two programmes, we may not be able to survive, and that poses a threat to the future of 645 TÚS, RSS and CE workers throughout the county who also rely on us for their employment.”
The companies contend that these proposals will not save money, as staff costs in the local development companies are lower than those for comparable positions in local authorities. CEO of Comhar na nOileán, Majella Ní Chríocháin called on all of those interested in, concerned about and affected by the work of the companies to support their call for these programmes to remain with the Local Development Companies:
“This proposal affects thousands of people in the county, anyone who avails of our services, who receives grant aid from us, who gets advice or other support from us. Whether someone lives in Inis Mór or in Gort, in Camus, Clifden or in Shantalla, these proposals will impact on services and on jobs in their areas. We are calling on people to support our call to leave local decision making and local services with local development companies, whose staff and Boards are part of the community and work solely on their behalf.”
The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), which represents local development companies throughout the country, has produced a one page information sheet for those concerned to discuss with candidates in the forthcoming elections: http://ildn.ie/news/what-do-local-government-reformsmean-for-communities
A 200 strong crowd turned out in support of Monaghan Integrated Development at a public meeting organised by the company at the Iontas Centre in Castleblayney last week.
The meeting was organised to highlight concerns over the proposed local government reforms which will see the responsibility for the company's two core programmes; the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) and the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), transfer to a committee to be established by the local authority.
Monaghan Integrated Development, like the other 49 Local Development Companies nationwide, have seen an increase in demand for the services they provide. The mass turnout last week in support of Monaghan Integrated is a testament to the 18 years of service they have provided to their community using the community-led, bottom-up approach to local development.
Chairmen representing Local Development Companies (LDCs) from across Ireland came together to discuss the implications of local government reforms on their communities. They were attending a meeting organised by their representative body; the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN).
Under the new reforms it is proposed that the two core funding streams of LDCs, the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) and the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), will be transferred to the Local Authorities through newly formed Local Community Development Committees.
LDCs believe that without these two core funding streams it will be difficult for LDCs to survive, as these core funds help them to deliver a range of other programmes and services to their communities.
John Walsh, ILDN Chairman said: “LDCs are not-for-profit organisations that have, for the past two decades, delivered a range of programmes that tackle poverty and social exclusion, assist enterprise creation and support the long-term unemployed.
“The LDCs voluntary Boards of Management ensure that the funds being invested locally respond adequately to the needs of their communities while offering the best value for money. We are concerned that this expertise, along with the expertise built up by LDC staff over the years will be lost, and that the communities we work with suffer the loss of the services we provide.
“Also under the reforms, the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) will be subject to public tendering meaning for-profit companies could end up delivering the programme. LDCs are well known and respected within their communities for their community-led, bottom-up approach to local development and we fear the loss of this community approach”, John Walsh concluded.
Representatives from the ILDN are in on-going negotiations with the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government to ensure that the most equitable solution is reached for the communities they represent.
Pictured above ack Row L-R - Jim Maguire (Chairman Donegal Local Development Company), Denis Drennan (Chairman Kilkenny LEADER Partnership), Michael Biggins (Chairman South West Mayo Development Company), Terry Keenan (Chairman Forum Connemara), Pat Monahan (Chairman Leitrim Development Company), Bernard Collins (Chairman North East Kerry Development), Jim Maguire (Chairman Breffni Integrated), Marie-Price Bolger (Chairman South Dublin County Partnership), Justin Sammon (Chairman South West Mayo Development Company), Ger Crowley (Chairman Paul Partnership). Front Row L-R - Dermot Leavy (Chairman Westmeath Development Company), Seamus Coyle (Chairman Monaghan Integrated), John Walsh (Chairman ILDN & Ballyhoura Development), Tom McGettrick (Chairman Sligo LEADER Partnership, Stephen Walsh (Chairman Clare Local Development Company), Jack Roche (IRD Duhallow Board member), Jim Finn (Chairman North Tipperary LEADER Partnership), Frank O'Brien (Chairman Louth LEADER)
Pictured Back Row from L-R Michael Biggins (ILDN), Tom McGettrick (ILDN), Pat Monahan (ILDN), Stephen Walsh (ILDN), Gerry Gunnng (IFA) Jim Maguire (ILDN), Pat Gilhooley (IFA), John O'Beirne (IFA), Brian Carty (ILDN), Front Row L-R Dermot Leavy (ILDN), Brendan O'Malley (IFA), John Walsh (ILDN), Flor McCarthy (IFA), Paddy Donnelly (IFA), Tom Hennessey (IFA).
Representatives from the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have met to discuss their joint concerns over the lack of clarity surrounding the future delivery of the next round of the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) by Local Development Companies (LDCs).
ILDN Chairman, John Walsh said: “Under local government reforms, it is proposed that the two core funding streams of LDCs, LEADER and the Local Community Development Programme (LCDP), will be transferred to the Local Authorities through newly formed Local Community Development Committees.
“This is of huge concern to our members as these proposed changes not only threaten the community-led, bottom-up approach used by LDCs in the delivery of programmes, but also because it threatens the capacity of LDCs to continue delivering services on the ground.
“LDCs deliver a range of programmes that tackle poverty and social exclusion, assist enterprise creation, support the long-term unemployed, offer education and training supports and help sustain community life in rural Ireland. Anything that disrupts this work will impact negatively on those who need these supports most; our communities”, John Walsh concluded.
Flor McCarthy, Chairman of the IFA’s Rural Development Committee said: “LDCs have a proven track-record of delivering on the ground for rural communities. We are supportive of their work as it is a critical support to the development of rural enterprise in Ireland. Each rural LDC has an IFA representative sitting on its Board and they are active contributors to the work of each company. Long may this continue.”
What are Local Development Companies?
- Local Development Companies (LDCs) are non-profit organisations that deliver a range of programmes that tackle poverty and social exclusion, assist enterprise creation, support the long-term unemployed and offer education and training supports.
- This is done in partnership with a number of government departments and agencies including the; Department of Social Protection, Department of Environment, Community & Local Government, Department of Education & Skills, Department of Children & Youth Affairs, Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, and the HSE.
- An example of just some of the programmes delivered by the 50 LDCs are; the Local & Community Development Programme, the Rural Development Programme (LEADER), Tús, the Rural Social Scheme, Jobs Clubs, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, Rural Transport Programme, Healthy Food Made Easy, CE & JI Schemes, Local Training Initiatives and Local Employment Services.
- These programmes are delivered using the community-led, bottom-up approach that has been recognised as best practice at an EU level.
What do the local government reforms mean?
- Local Authorities (LAs), through newly formed Local Community Development Committees, will be responsible for the two core funding programmes of LDCs; the Local & Community Development Programme & the Rural Development Programme (LEADER).
- The LEADER Programme will, as previously, be subject to tendering. However the reforms suggest that the LCDCs will be the Local Action Groups to hold the LEADER contract and will implement, or arrange for the implementation of the LEADER programme. The reform also proposes that the Local & Community Development Programme will be open to public tendering.
- Without these two core programmes, it will be difficult for LDCs to survive and continue providing the range of other programmes/services they deliver to communities.
- With circa 1,900 people employed by LDCs, not only does the transfer of undertaking of staff need to be understood, but so does the placement of these staff in similar roles where the extensive expertise they have built-up over the past 20 years is used to best effect.
- The volunteer based Boards of Management of LDCs that make the key decisions on how best to invest funds in their local areas while achieving the best return for the sustainable development of their community, could also be lost.
- Communities could also lose out on the additional funding leveraged by LDCs to undertake community projects as we understand LAs are not permitted to leverage money from philanthropic sources. This would be a huge blow to communities who in 2012 benefited from an additional €100m from philanthropic, statutory and private sources.
Will these changes save money?
No. In fact these changes will cost money. A comparison of LDC staff costs for five key comparable positions within local authorities showed that L DC staff costs were lower in each case (Smith Everett & Associates, July 2013).
What should happen instead? LDCs should:
1. Remain the designated organisation to design and deliver local development strategies for both the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) and the Local & Community Development Programme.
2. LDCs should be the EU recognised Local Action Group for the above funds and related funding streams.
3. Be the decision maker when investing funds in local communities, enterprises and initiatives based on their integrated local development strategies.
4. Should be able to continue to leverage additional funding for their communities.
Picured above: Chairpersons and CEOs of Border Local Development Companies at their recent meeting. Back row l-r John Butler, CEO, Louth LEADER Partnership; Donal Fox, CEO, Leitrim Development Company; Frank O’Brien, Chairman Louth LEADER Partnership; Caoimhin Mac Aoidh CEO, Donegal Local Development Co.; Brendan O’Reilly, CEO, Breffni Integrated Development; Chris Gonley, CEO, Sligo LEADER Partnership. Front row l-r Shauna McClenaghan, Joint Programme Manager, Inishowen Development Partnership; Jim Maguire, Chairman, Breffni Integrated Development; Jim Slevin, Chairman Donegal Local Development Co.; Tom McGettrick, Chairman, Sligo LEADER Partnership; Seamus Coyle, Chairman, Monaghan Integrated Development.
Local Development Companies (LDCs) from Donegal, Cavan, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo met today to discuss their concerns over the proposed local government reforms which will see the alignment of local government with local development.
At their latest meeting, the Chairpersons and CEOs of the seven Local Development Companies operating in the border region from Louth to Donegal noted their huge concern for the operations of local development companies and the delivery of locally focussed development initiatives. Over the last number of decades, Local Development Companies have worked throughout their communities to combat disadvantage through the delivery of a range of programmes that assist the long-term unemployed, combat social exclusion and poverty, assist people in creating their own business and offer training and education so people can develop their skills.
The proposed local government reforms however, will see the two core programmes delivered by Local Development Companies; the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) and the Rural Development Programme (RDP) LEADER, transfer to the local authorities, which will impact negatively on the delivery of services on the ground.
The Chairpersons and CEOs emphasised that throughout decades of the delivery of various local development programmes, the targets of each programme have been met and in most cases exceeded. This achievement was also carried out in a strong value for money context with administration costs being firmly capped at very low levels ensuring maximum funding supports to local communities. The Chairpersons and CEOs expressed grave concerns that the loss of the skills and expertise built up amongst the Local Development Companies staff would certainly result in a significant negative impact on the provision of services and direct supports to local communities.
Chairman of Donegal Local Development Company, Mr. Jim Slevin said ‘the proposals for the delivery of local development will certainly mean a reduction in the direct levels of supports, services and assistance to local communities and small rural businesses in County Donegal. The track record of DLDC in assisting communities throughout the county has been independently proven to be of an excellent standard and at minimum cost to the programmes. As a result, Donegal communities receive a quality service from a highly professional staff with the maximum amount of development funds channelled directly into communities. It is hard to see how any of the proposed changes will improve on that. DLDC currently employs nearly 500 persons with the vast majority of those being placed directly in communities through employment programmes. In relation to the funding programmes such as the Local and Community Development Programme as well as the RDP / LEADER Programme, virtually every community in Donegal has been positively assisted through grants sourced under these programmes. At this stage of discussions, I would have grave concerns for the future of local development programmes being able to make as many and as high a quality of impact on communities in County Donegal’.
The seven Local Development Companies that met were; Breffni Integrated Ltd., Donegal Local Development Co. Ltd., Inishowen Development Partnership, Leitrim Development Company, Louth LEADER, Monaghan Integrated Development and Sligo LEADER Partnership Company. They represent the Border Region under the umbrella body of the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) which has 50 Local Development Companies in its Network.