RATHKEALE has finally been allocated the RAPID programme funding it was first promised in late 2009. But the delayed allocation is also a much reduced one.
In 2009, the then government promised €250,000 to Rathkeale under the RAPID programme which is aimed at disadvantaged areas. But following a delay of two years, Rathkeale was told that only €100,000 was available. Within days of this announcement, however, the funding was withdrawn. Now, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan has said that Rathkeale is to get €88,000 and there has been no indication about whether or if the remainder of the money will become available at a later date.
A local committee, the Area Implementation Team, will meet next Tuesday to decide on how the €88,000 will be divided up among the projects submitted for funding. “No new projects can be considered,” David Breen, the community development officer in the town said this Wednesday. But the AIT will decide on priorities and will make recommendations to the Community Forum which meets next Wednesday.
Among the projects which were originally devised and submitted for funding were a running track, a youth cafe, equipment for the local scouts and for the Rathkeale Boxing Club and renovation of the community centre. New applications and new quotes must now be submitted for all the projects by mid- June and the work must be completed by the beginning of December.
“I think it will be important for community spirit and for getting a bit of confidence back into the community development process,” Mr Breen told the Limerick Leader, welcoming the news of the allocation.
“The delay in bringing forward the funds was regrettable,” Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan said but he welcomed the announcement and paid tribute to the work of the local community in Rathkeale.
His colleague Dan Neville also welcomed the announcement. “This is something I have been campaigning for for some time now and I know that it has taken a long time to get to this day and I am thankful for the patience and forbearance shown by all the local players involved. I am delighted to announce this funding from dormant accounts to allow some small-scale, but nevertheless important, actions to be undertaken to improve the infrastructure of those communities most in need. I am confident that further monies under the Rapid Programme will be made available at a later stage and I am continuing to lobby for this,” he said this week.
However, at Monday’s county council meeting, local councillor Stephen Keary said the money involved, while welcome, was only “chickenfeed” compared with the revenues being lost in Rathkeale through unpaid household charges, unpaid second home tax, uncollected stamp duty and capital gains.
Cllr Keary was calling yet again for a property audit in the town and for funds to be made available from various Government departments to pay for the audit.
He told the council that Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton had simply passed the request on, that Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan had said she was “examining” the matter and that Minister Hogan had not even responded.
“This is an insult to my intelligence,” Cllr Keary said, adding that he intended to put the motion down for discussion at every second council meetings until such time as he got a satisfactory response.