FEARS are growing locally that Ballyhoura Development could close if the Government goes ahead with changes on how local and rural development programmes are delivered.
Communities across the county are being urged to attend one of two upcoming showcase rallies to show support for the continuity of the company and the many services they provide.
“Ballyhoura Development has 25 years experience of delivering supports to local communities and people, with positive results. The changes by the Government could see public bodies take over these programmes which would have serious consequences for citizens and communities across the Ballyhoura area,” said John Walsh, chairperson of Ballyhoura Development.
Parish priest of Caherconlish/Caherline, Fr Roy Donovan, spoke about the threats to Ballyhoura Development, from the pulpit during Mass at the weekend.
“The Government are making the same mistakes as the church did with giving power to the top management top-up rather than Ballyhoura which is more bottom-up based,” said Fr Donovan.
“The church has made mistakes there and are trying to give power to the local churches again.
“I feel that we shouldn’t be passive, people should inform themselves and if there are protest meetings, go along and find out more about it. Why take some structure that is going very well for us - why change it? It sounds like somebody has had the idea to do all this and they don’t seem to be in touch with what is going on in rural communities,” he continued.
The showcase rallies take place at 7.30pm on both Friday, April 11 at Nagle Rice secondary school, Doneraile and on Monday, April 14 at Cappamore Community Centre.
Ballyhoura Development provide a range of services across the county including guiding Start Your Own Business courses, supporting community projects such as Tidy Towns and village enhancement initiatives and facilitating homework clubs in Caherconlish, Cappamore and Mitchelstown.
Carmel Fox, CEO of Ballyhoura Development stated that Ballyhoura Development is in favour of stronger local government. However, she clarified that the strengthening of local government does not have to negatively impact on the current local delivery by companies such as Ballyhoura Development.
Elaine Butler of Croom Community Development Association (CCDA) said that Ballyhoura Development is “an invaluable support” to many rural communities across East Limerick.