A LIMERICK charity working with immigrants and asylum seekers could be facing a funding crisis when benefactor Chuck Feeney winds down his Atlantic Philanthropies two years from now.
And Karen McHugh, CEO of Doras Luimni, believes that the government should step in and fill the funding gap rather than leaving it up to Europe.
She was responding to a statement from Labour’s Deputy Michael McNamara welcoming European Commission funding for the Foundations for Work, a specific programme aimed at equipping migrants to enter work and being run in Ireland by Doras Luimni.
“Doras Luimni is entirely reliant on funding, most of it coming from Atlantic Philanthropies. That source of funding is likely to dry up in the near future, so it is hoped that such organisations as Doras Luimní could be funded through the European Commission in future,” Deputy McNamara told the Council of Europe.
“I hope the European Commission will continue providing necessary financial support for Doras Luimní when Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies winds down,” he said.
Ms McHugh, however, said she would prefer if funding came from Limerick or Dublin rather than from Brussels.
“It is not Europe’s responsibility to fund local organisations. It is for Irish local and national government to support NGOs. I imagine without organisations such as our own, there would have been much greater issues around racism around exploitation in Limerick,” she said.
She appreciated Deputy McNamara’s support for Doras’ work, however. A barrister, the Clare TD had actually volunteered for Doras in its early days.
“He has a very understanding of social inclusion and the barriers and challenges faced by migrants,” said Ms McHugh.
And Deputy McNamara was right to be concerned about how Doras might be funded when Atlantic Philanthropies stops giving out grants in 2016.
“That is absolutely correct and unfortunately, it’s not everyone who wants to fund our work,” said Ms McHugh.
Doras, she said, received no statutory funding apart from a small amount from the HSE or a specific health programme.