FEARS MONAGHAN BODY IS NOW UNDER MAJOR THREAT

28 February 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By PATSY McARDLE

SHOCK fears were expressed this week that a vitally important Co. Monaghan body, which is currently part of a State network, and successfully placed 887 local people in jobs, or in employment schemes in the county last year, may have its role terminated under the proposed controversial Local Government Reform package.

It has emerged that Monaghan Integrated Development supported 3,240 individuals to take part in activities that greatly improved their lives, or the well-being of their community.

In its annual report, released this week, it was revealed that 887 unemployed persons were placed in jobs or employment schemes.

The body also supported 260 small businesses, of which 86 were new enterprises and invested over €1.1 million in funding for small rural enterprise creation and community facilities, and through community employment work schemes. Overall, the body supported the work of more than 100 community and voluntary groups in Co Monaghan.

Welcoming the figures, upon the release of the annual report, the Chairman of Monaghan Integrated Development, Cllr. Seamus Coyle (Latton) said yesterday: “In the current economic climate, the prospect of finding paid employment in county Monaghan is a dream for many people, so any organization that can place this number of unemployed in jobs or to help them create a job for themselves should be highly valued. “Some 453 people who were unemployed at the start of 2013 are now working for an employer—it is widely recognized that the cost to the State of one person on the live register per year is €20,000, when unemployment benefit and income tax forgone are calculated”.
“Based on this figure, the savings to the State from those placed directly in jobs by Monaghan Integrated Development services for 2013 were over €9 million”.
“This is a significant outcome and a ringing endorsement for the work of Monaghan Integrated Development in the delivery of its community based programmes”.
“Another 434 people are working on employment schemes such as Tús and the Rural Social Scheme where they are building their experience and job market readiness with the help of Monaghan Integrated Development”.
Cllr Coyle said these were people who are benefiting from being involved in meaningful job placement programmes which are working for the benefit of their own communities.
The Monaghan Integrated Development Chairman added that he found it quite amazing that the work of an organization that put almost 900 people into work annually is now being be put at risk by the present government’s proposals for ‘Alignment’ and Local Government Reform. “I have to ask, why are they trying to fix what is obviously not broken?”
GOOD RESULTS
The Chief Executive Officer of Monaghan Integrated Development Mr. Gabriel O’Connell said he was delighted with the end of year results produced by the organisation. He said for the past 18 years Monaghan Integrated Development was funded by the State to implement the local community development programmes including LEADER. The foundation of last year’s success, he said, was built on the range of services that this funding had allowed Monaghan Integrated Development to offer and it was important to understand what these services delivered and how they were linked together.
He said “Monaghan Integrated Development activity has growing significantly since its early years by continuing to respond effectively to identified local needs and now delivers a range of complementary programmes which work together to address important local issues like unemployment of our young people, the legacy of previous decades of early school leaving and the need to access lifelong learning and to link and prepare unemployed with local employers and job opportunities and help those who want to pursue self-employment.”
“The restructuring of the agricultural sector over the last two decades has had a significant impact on the farming sector of county Monaghan. The relatively smaller scale nature of the farms in the county has often led to underemployment and hardship for many farm household”.
“Monaghan Integrated Development has been proactively providing a ‘Smallholder Service’ for farm families to help them deal with the consequences of the restructuring by providing training, advice and guidance on schemes and off-farm employment opportunities”.
Mr. O’Connell said communities were the lifeblood of rural Ireland and over the last 18 year Monaghan Integrated Development had been to the fore in working to build the capacity of community and voluntary groups to identify and represent the needs of their community”.
“Our community development staff have been active through the county providing training, advice and guidance in order to harness the local enthusiasm and help community groups work towards shared goals and objectives for their areas”
He pointed to the success of the Monaghan Integrated Development ‘Volunteer Centre’ set up in 2008 which created an important link between those interested in volunteering with groups who needed help and support to undertake their local projects.
He believed that county Monaghan has now a well-developed and vibrant community and voluntary sector. However, he fears, emerging changes around availability of funding schemes and the impact of new charity regulation will present new challenges for our community sector which points to the need for continued specialist community development support.
“In a predominately rural county like Monaghan many of the old challenges are still with us also, how to deal with rural isolation, aging population, limited transport infrastructure and the ‘pull effect’ to the larger urban centres providing higher education and follow on job opportunities. Addressing rural depopulation and the related challenges of maintaining public services in rural areas will require integrated approaches, local innovation and the need for services to

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