Minister Cynical on Laois LEADER Accuses Harkin

Minister for the Environment Mr. Phil Hogan has been castigated for cynical manipulation of media in order to achieve an unnecessary and counter-productive change to the way in which the LEADER programme is delivered in Co. Laois.

Responding to the publication of salaries of Chief Executives of Local Development Groups, Marian Harkin said that it was a new low for a government Minister to use the politics of envy to persuade the public that his undermining of local development groups and LEADER was in their interests.

 

“The Minister, in publishing salaries for Chief Executives of Local Development and LEADER companies who are paid less than those paid to his civil servants, is a classic case of cynical manipulation”, she said.

38 of the 50 salaries revealed by Minister Hogan were below those of the many principle officers in his and other government departments and their equivalents in local authorities, she said.  “LEADER has a proven track record of delivering jobs on a cost per job basis that compares favourably to IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland and Minister Hogan’s decision to deliver responsibility for this activity for the future to Local Authorities is mind boggling”, the Independent MEP said.

“Where all of a sudden do we have jobs creating expertise in local authorities and what is to happen the jobs of the almost 2,000 people currently employed and doing good work in local development companies and LEADER”, she asked.  To place Local Development Company and LEADER activity under the control of Local Authorities flew in the face of the fact that their bottom up method of operation is regarded by the EU as best practice for the delivery of these programmes, she said.  “What guarantee is there that handing over job creation to Local Authorities will match the performance of LEADER which in the last five years supported 6,800 small businesses and created 2,396 jobs”, she said.

 

“The Minister for the Environment and his Department’s record is one which a spokesperson for Irish Water said today, has resulted in 20,000 people being on boil notices for deficient drinking water on any given day and these are the people who have made this wrong-headed decision which dilutes voluntary involvement, will lead to job losses for people with expertise and could deliver LEADER licenses to people and organisations which do not have the local knowledge, commitment and culture which has been clearly proven to exist among the LEADER group and which have proven so successful in the last 20 years”, Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded.

 

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