Tipperary Politicians Turn out in Force to Hear Concerns of Local Development Companies

TDs and Senators from Co. Tipperary turned out in force for an event in Dublin last week, attended by representatives from North Tipperary LEADER Partnership and South Tipperary Development Company. The event, which took place on Wednesday, 23rd January, was organised by the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), the representative body for Ireland’s 50 local development companies including the aforementioned.

 

The aim of the ILDN event was to highlight concerns amongst local development companies about how proposed local government

Michael Murray (North Tipperary LEADER Partnership), Noel Coonan TD, Michael Lowry TD, Jim Finn (Chair, North Tipperary LEADER Partnership)

reforms could impact negatively on community-led local development.  According to the ILDN, the reforms proposed in the ‘Putting

People First’ report –published recently by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government – place up to 2,000 jobs at risk in local development companies and sideline the community and voluntary sector.

 

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.”

 

Niall Morrissey (South Tipperary Development Company), Seamus Healy TD, Senator Denis Landy, Phil Shanahan (South Tipperary Development Company)

Politicians in attendance from Tipperary included: Noel Coonan TD, Alan Kelly TD, Michael Lowry TD, Tom Hayes TD, Seamus Healy TD, Mattie McGrath TD and Senator Denis Landy.  At the Dublin event, they received briefings from Michael Murray, CEO, North Tipperary LEADER Partnership; Jim Finn, Chair, North Tipperary LEADER Partnership; Niall Morrissey, CEO, South Tipperary Development Company; and Phil Shanahan, South Tipperary Development Company.

 

Speaking in the aftermath of the event, Niall Morrissey, CEO of South Tipperary Development Company said: “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 over 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 Niall Morrissey.  “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.

 

“At the event in Dublin last week, we explained to the Co. Tipperary politicians who attended how the local government reforms will destroy community-led local development if they go ahead.  The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government has agreed to discuss our concerns with us over the coming weeks, which is a move we welcome.  In the meantime, we will maintain ongoing contact with our local TDs and Senators in relation to this issue.”

 

Phil Shanahan (South Tipperary Development Company), Mattie McGrath TD, Niall Morrissey (South Tipperary Development Company)

An ILDN survey conducted last year showed that, in 2011, local development companies in Tipperary supported:

 

  • ·        236 people into employment.
  • ·        56 people into self-employment.
  • ·        513 people into education or training.
  • ·        70 people into labour market programmes.

 

Michael Murray (North Tipperary LEADER Partnership), Jim Finn (Chair, North Tipperary LEADER Partnership), Phil Shanahan (South Tipperary Development Company), Tom Hayes TD, Niall Morrissey (South Tipperary Development Company)

Niall Morrissey said the ILDN and local development companies throughout Ireland will continue their campaign over the coming weeks to highlight to politicians and policymakers the serious repercussions for community-led local development if the proposed local government reforms go ahead.  Further information about the campaign is available at: www.ildn.ie.

 

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