Leitrim’s County Councillors have called on the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, TD to leave the Leitrim Development Company (LDC) as the statutory instrument for administering and implementing the Local and Community Development Programme and the next Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The Director of Service, Planning, Community and Economic Development, Joe Gilhooly, noted that the roll out of the SECs was contained with in the Local Government Reform Report ‘Putting People First’.
“This matter is also relevant in regard to the ongoing work of the committee established to examine greater alignment between local government and local development. As there are national processes in place with responsibility to further progress these initiatives it would be premature for Leitrim County Council to take up a definite position on this matter at this time, particularly in the absence of any detailed published proposals surrounding the implementation of the above mentioned committee or alignment initiatives,” he said.
However, councillors voted to support the motion citing the excellent work carried out by the Leitrim Development Company.
“This decision has been made without any consultation at all with Leitrim Development Company,” noted Cllr McDermott at the February Council meeting.
“I’m a Board member on the LDC and I see how much work they are doing. It is wonderful work and I believe this move by the Minister is premature.”
His words were echoed by fellow board member Frank Dolan who seconded the motion stressing how “highly regarded the LDC was both locally and nationally for their excellent work and support, especially for the marginalised”.
Siobhan McGloin described the LDC as a “Centre of Excellence for Community Development” and said the way they impact on the community and the lives of so many, “is quite simply, phenomenal”.
Cllr Martin Kenny also noted that the present system of community development in place in Ireland was now being rolled out all over Europe.
“It seems strange to go against what Europe are now advocating and I am very fearful that if these changes do take place the funding for this work will be sucked in to support other areas of Local Authorities,” he argued.
LDC Board member, Cllr Paddy O’Rourke also rowed in behind the motion stressing that he was not suggesting that the Local Authority workers would not be up to the task of delivering this programme, but he felt that the unique experience already in bodies such as the LDC would be lost if such changes to delivery and administration were implemented.
However, while Cllr Gerry Reynolds said that he had nothing but the highest regard for the work carried out by the LDC, there had to be some realignment in terms of the administration and delivery of Community Development.
“It needs to be established just how much is spent on administration and how much is spent on programme funding,” he said adding that “there is already an Enterprise Arm in the Local Authorities where we already have some expertise” and “there is the opportunity for some of those in the LDC to come into the new system under the Local Authority”.