THE chairman of West Limerick Resources, Tom Madigan, has appealed to all community activists and members of the public to attend a public meeting in Newcastle West next Wednesday night. The meeting is a crucial one, Mr Madigan said, and will highlight the risks facing West Limerick Resources (WLR) and how the company can work in the future. It will also outline the threat to WLR’s 40 staff if proposals in their current form go through. The meeting is one of a series of public meetings organised by local partnership companies around the country, including Ballyhoura, all of whom are concerned by changes proposed under the Government’s Putting People First policy.
“The Government is proposing changes to the way programmes, which we currently deliver, will be delivered in the future,” Mr Madigan explained. “If implemented, the changes will lead to serious questions on the future sustainability of local development companies like West Limerick Resources.”
These changes, Mr Madigan added, could could have very far reaching consequences for WLR and the range of economic, community and social supports they have been delivering to communities in West Limerick over 20 years
Negotiations have been taking place nationally between local development companies and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government since last year. However, according to Mr Madigan, these negotiations have, to date, failed to clarify and agree what role, if any, the department sees for local development companies like WLR.
A particularly difficult issue is how the partnership companies like WLR will work with the newly established Local Community Development Companies, which have been set up by all the local authorities. The Limerick Local Community Development Company was agreed by councillors earlier this year.
According to WLR manager, Shay Riordan, the concern is that this new body could take over the company’s core programmes, such as the Local and Community Development programme and the Rural Development Programme, side-lining the knowledge and experience of West Limerick Resources. “If one or both of these programmes is removed in part or in their entirety from West Limerick Resources all the other work which we do could potentially collapse. This is why we are so concerned by these proposed changes and why we feel the community should be also.”
However, Josephine Cotter-Coughlan, director of services for community and with responsibility for the new body, the LLCDC, says the aim of the changes is to avoid duplication and fragmentation. She stressed that working in partnership was the key. “We want to work in partnership with the local development companies, to continue the good that has been done, to enhance capacity building and to continue to deliver local, development and community initiatives.”