CONCERN OVER FUTURE OF LEADER JOBS IN DONEGAL

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first_imgWith less than three months remaining until the EU rural development projects are taken over by County Councils, serious concerns have arisen that employees currently working for the Leader companies will lose their jobs at the end of June.Councillor Ian McGarveyThe Tirconail Tribune report that staff at the Donegal Leader Companies including DLDC in Letterkenny have been left in the dark about their future employment under the new regime from July 1st.It appears that around eight posts in Letterkenny have remained unfilled since it was announced that the current administration model was being changed. And according to sources, the five full time employees in Letterkenny have been left in the dark with no communication as to their future status.The former number of 1,500 employees of Leader companies across Ireland has been halved and most of those left have no idea if they will have a job in July.Cllr. Ian McGarvey said he is aware of the issues involved and he does not agree with the new mechanism because it is a further attempt to take funds away from rural Ireland.He is raising the issue with Council officials this week. Since the Donegal Local Development Company was founded the company has been one of Donegal’s major success stories with a track record that no other government agency can match. The company has been instrumental in overseeing the delivery of €55 million in that period with direct funding of €23 million in grant assistance to hundred of projects.With Donegal going to get €12.9 million in rural development funding between now and 2020 the cut from the previous allocation of €25 million is more serious because for the first time the urban area of Letterkenny is now included. We are being told that Leader must now embrace a wide range of community projects for the Letterkenny area on a seriously reduced budget. And as a consequence many rural based initiatives may have to be scrapped entirely.This means that the overall cut to the Donegal allocation may be in the order of 55% said one political source this week.Already the new funding mechanism is causing political ructions. Eamon O’Cuiv of FF has accused the Environment Minister, Alan Kelly of effectively taking away €250 million of rural development funding from ‘truly rural areas’ and redirecting it to more urban locations. He is to raise his concerns with the EU Commission.For the past 22 years, Leader funding has allowed investment to thousands of projects in rural Ireland and in terms of the number of jobs it supports it has been a big success.. Part of that success story has been the way it has been administered and managed locally. Launched in 1991 by the then Commissioner for Agriculture, Ray MacSharry, funding under Leader was administered by not for profit local development companies who distributed grants and other supports to projects within their areas.The approach and success of the programme in Ireland was regarded internationally as a model of best practice and the Irish LDCs are at the forefront of an EU-wide Leader movement constituting more than 2,000 groups in 28 member states. That is all about to change.Environment Minister Phil Hogan decided to ‘align’ the LDCs with local authorities under ‘socio-economic committees’ (SECs). The fear is that these largely voluntary bodies will be eventually subsumed within county councils, with all the bureaucracy and politicisation that this method entails.Opposition to the Government’s plan is being spearheaded by the Irish Local Development Network, which in the past year supported almost 2,000 enterprises and administered €200m in funding. It contends that the change would cost the Government more than €20m, would put 2,000 jobs at risk and could even jeopardise further EU funding. Independent MEP Marian Harkin has pointed out that the success of the community groups in terms of job creation was at least on a par with the achievements of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. Claiming that the move will “eliminate genuine community voluntary participation and replace it with jobs for the boys”, she said that one of the abiding strengths of the local community structure was that it did not have friends in high places.In those circumstances many political and community leaders will find it very difficult see any good reason for dismantling a system that has provided jobs in areas that foreign investment rarely touches. It is not as if the local authorities have been clamouring for such a role. They do not want the job, presumably because they recognise that they have neither the experience nor the expertise to match the achievements to date.The representative body of Leader companies in Ireland, the Irish Local Development Network has said that reduced investment in rural Ireland under the Rural Development Programme will have far reaching consequences for those most marginalised in rural Ireland.John Walsh, ILDN Chairman said: “The current Leader programme implemented by their Local Development Companies has been a huge success for rural Ireland. Since 2009, 8,698 rural enterprises were funded through Leader which supported the creation of 4,084 rural jobs. This during one of the worst economic times Ireland has faced in recent decades. Leader also improved the quality of life for rural communities with significant investments in community infrastructure across the country.”He adds: “At a time when rural communities are hit daily with reductions in public services, Post Offices closures and the scaling back of rural transport services, this additional cut will be seen by many as another slash and burn announcement for rural Ireland.”Meanwhile those currently employed by the Leader Companies can only wait and hope they will still have a job on July 1st.CONCERN OVER FUTURE OF LEADER JOBS IN DONEGAL was last modified: April 9th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cllr Ian McGarveydonegaljobsLEADERlast_img

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