Over six hundred people turned out in force to show their support for Donegal Local Development Company Ltd. (DLDC) and community–led development at a Public Meeting in the Finn Valley Centre, Stranorlar on Tuesday, 13th May.
John Keon, independent Chair for the Public Meeting (former Donegal Creameries CEO), explained that the event was organised in recognition of some insecurity for the future of DLDC and its staff.
As part of the Government reforms in 2014, a new structure, is being established ‘Local Community Development Committee’s (LCDC’s) under the auspices and control of the administrators of the Local Authorities in Ireland. The proposed local government reforms will firstly see the two core programmes, namely The Local and Community Development Programme and LEADER which have been delivered for almost twenty years by Local Development Companies, transfer in the main to the LCDC’s.
Frank Kelly from DLDC informed those in attendance that local communities should now consider if the proposed new structure will be the most effective way to deliver programmes based on local issues and local needs. He explained that the aim of the meeting was to inform communities and citizens about how the proposed changes might impact on them and to consider how the services offered by DLDC can continue to be supported and retained.
Community key speakers on the night who showcased their community projects included; Liam Mailey from Convoy Community and Enterprise, Fiona O’Shea from Killybegs Cruise Ship Information Centre, Ann Sheridan from Jigsaw, Mary McGrenra from Craoibhín - Grass Routes and Patsy McGonigle from Finn Valley Centre.
Chair John Keon highlighted the proposed changes and his grave concerns that the existing link between the community and Local Development Companies like DLDC could be severed forever, with the loss of skills and expertise built up over many years. This scenario would have a significant negative impact on your local community.
Liam Mailey, representative from Convoy Community expressed his gratification to DLDC in relation to supports that Convoy has received from DLDC to date, including dedicated Tús and RSS scheme participants and funding received from RDP Leader. He also stated that ‘without the support from DLDC, Convoy would not be looking as good as it is now, long live DLDC!’
Killybegs Cruise Ship Information Centre also expressed their support, representative Fiona O’Shea gave an overview of supports received.
Mary McGrenra, from Craoibhín thanked DLDC for the support they received to help set up their Grass Routes Project.
Patsy McGonigle from Finn Valley Centre, thanked DLDC and stated that ‘DLDC are all about community and have given the Finn Valley area great support and a fantastic community centre’.
A number of local Councillors also publically pledged their support to the company.
The Chairperson gave the audience the opportunity to voice their views. Concerns were echoed throughout the room regarding the loss of DLDCs supports and services which are presently being provided by dedicated and experienced staff.
Fionula Brennan from Donegal Womans Network expressed her concerns about reform and empathised with DLDC as they too are extremely concerned for their services and supports which are delivered throughout Donegal.
Winston Patterson, former Chairman of International Fund for Ireland and Chairman of the Donaghmore Hall Committee highlighted ‘If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.’ Many others followed with the same sentiment including Siobhan Mc Laughlin who spoke of her experience in her role as secretary of DLDC. John Quinn and Molly Reynolds, both former Chairman and Secretary respectively also echoed similar sentiments.
Over the last three decades, Donegal Local Development Company Ltd and local voluntary community groups in Donegal have worked successfully together to combat disadvantage through the delivery of a variety of programmes.
Through this partnership, DLDC has provided direct assistance that has;
• Enabled communities to develop facilities and local development programmes
• Helped and provided employment to the long-term unemployed
• Combated social exclusion and poverty
• Assisted businesses and people in creating jobs and enterprise in their local community
• Provided training and educational programmes to up-skill individuals and community groups
Under the existing structure numerous local development programmes have been delivered throughout the county. In almost every village and town throughout Donegal, communities continue to avail of one or more of the following programmes in partnership with Donegal Local Development Company: Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Local and Community Development Programme inclusive of Back to Work Enterprise Scheme, Donegal Volunteer Centre, Leader/RDP, The Rural Recreational Walks Programme, CE Childcare Programme, Job Club and Jobs Initiative.
DLDC Chairman, Jim Slevin closed the event thanking everyone for turning out in such big numbers and reminded everyone of DLDCs Mission Statement ‘Working in Donegal towards a better future for all.’ He encouraged everyone to show their support for their Local Development Company by signing the online petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-local-development-companies
This online petition is aimed at ensuring that the decades of experience Local Development Companies have is not lost and that they can continue to deliver services to their communities. ‘Please pledge your support to DLDC and other LDCs to ensure local communities continue to receive the supports they need and deserve.’