MONAGHAN CO-OP AND IFA URGE MINISTER FOR ‘NO CHANGE’ IN COMMUNITY FUNDING

16 May 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By PATSY McARDLE

TOWN of Monaghan Co-Op Society has added its voice to a call by the Irish Farmers’ Association in Co. Monaghan to Environment Minister Phil Hogan, and the local Fine Gael Dail deputies, Sean Conlan and Heather Humphreys, to ease the huge concerns felt throughout the county—and nationally—over the future administration of local development programmes such as LEADER and the implications for the existing all-important programmes for job creation.

Monaghan Integrated Development has already called for meaningful high level engagement with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, to devolve an amicable resolution of the issue, with the abolition of existing Councils and the creation of the new municipal administrative bodies .

On Tuesday last Mr. Gabriel O’Connell, CEO of Monaghan Integrated Development—the local development company for Co Monaghan which delivers a broad range of local development programmes including LEADER and the Local Community Development programme— made a very informative presentation on the situation to the IFA County Executive meeting in Castleblayney.

And it was also revealed that Town of Monaghan Co-Operative Society, one of the country’s leading dairying co-operative societies, made a direct call to the Minister for the Environment Mr. Hogan, to ensure the existing structres for local development and job creation are fully retained.

A letter to the Minister, on behalf of the council of Town of Monaghan co-op, signed by the co-op’s Chief Executive Mr. Vincent Gilhawley, expressed the co-op’s grave concerns at the Minister’s proposals in the Local Government Act 2014 to transfer responsibility for delivery of community and rural development programmes to new Local Authorities.
In his submission to the IFA on Tuesday, Mr. O’Connell, on behalf of the Co. Monaghan Integrated Development body, said that Monaghan was predominately a rural county, largely off the radar of FDI and “suffering from the decline in traditional industries like furniture manufacturing and the longer-term affects of CAP reform on small farm holdings”.

He said Monaghan Integrated Development, through its community-based programmes, was working hard to place people in jobs and support the creation of small indigenous enterprise as an alternative way out of unemployment and is also working to upskill those who need to look at different career paths.

For over 20 years now,he said, local development companies like Monaghan Integrated Development all over Ireland were working with communities using the bottom-up approach and involving voluntary effort to get local economies working again and to stimulate growth and opportunity.

The CEO said that last year Monaghan Integrated Development supported 3,240 individuals to take part in activities that improved their lives or the wellbeing of their rural community. Almost 900 unemployed were placed in jobs and employment schemes and we 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.

Through community employment initiatives like Tus & RSS, they supported the work of over 100 community and voluntary groups across Co Monaghan to help them fulfill their community projects.

Mr O’Connell continued: ”There is hardly a part of Co. Monaghan which hasn’t benefited from the programmes run by Monaghan Integrated Development over the last 20 years”.

In addition to the core funding of LEADER and its local community development programme, Monaghan Integrated Development secured an additional € 1.2 million in funding for complementary activities to help deliver a more integrated local development strategy for the county. These included Local Employment Service, TUS, RSS, Volunteer Centre, Peace and Older Persons projects.

He said: “There are now real concerns among the community and voluntary sector that what is proposed under alignment will do serious damage to the bottom-up approach of local development and the involvement of volunteers going forward”.

“This is particularly true for the LEADER programme which Monaghan Integrated Development delivers and which is targeted at making rural areas more sustainable and to improve the quality of life of the people and diversify the rural economy”.

Mr O’Connell said while we welcome much of what Minister Hogan is trying to achieve, through a more coordinated approach to the delivery of local services including local development, the reform of local government doesn’t have to negatively impact the current local development delivery models being successfully operated by local development companies like Monghan Integrated Development.

It is widely recognised, he stated, that the local development programmes (LCDP and LEADER) are being implemented effectively in County Monaghan and that it is important that this should continue.
The greater ‘align …

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