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Fears community support group could be axed

The East Clare Community Support group, part Community Development Programme (CDP) initiative, recently held a meeting with public representatives outlining concerns that their service could be cut by the year’s end.

The organisation, which has a brief for community development and social inclusion, held the public meeting last Friday, when they discussed what way they could best respond. There has been a lot of speculation following the publication of the McCarthy Report that the CDP may face the chopping block in early December and while nothing has been formally agreed or discussed with the groups, the organisation is worried.
These concerns have been exacerbated most recently as the group’s last batch of funding for this quarter of the year has not yet been received and is a month late. This funding is used to pay salaries, rent, administration costs and bills. While other CDPs in Clare had their funding held up, Darina Greene, o-ordinator with East Clare Community Support, acknowledged that currently the East Clare group appear to be the only CDP in the county not to have received it to date.
Ms Greene, said, “We’re in limbo, while we have heard nothing official, there are concerns. We held the meeting with local representatives to say who we are and what we’re about. Councillors Joe Cooney, Michael Begley, Pat Hayes and Deputy Timmy Dooley were there and they did let us know that they would be fighting on our behalf. But they didn’t have anything new for us. We just want to put our best foot forward and told them how important it was.”
The public meeting was told that East Clare Community Support’s budget was cut by 12% and that the Department of Community, Rural and Social Affairs had “outlined formally that the unviable CDPs will be removed from the programme and viable CDPs will merge”. They stressed that they have not been told anything officially and have been left in the dark, having received no correspondence, no consultation and no communication about the future, despite their concerns.
They asked the local representatives what they would do to ensure that the funding invested by the department remained in the community and what they would do to ensure that the services currently being delivered by the East Clare Community Support CDP continue to be delivered, and in a community building. They also called on the political representatives to retain the staff and the Community Employment Scheme in the area.
Councillor Pat Hayes said he was in agreement with the organisation and would push for it to retain the services that have been put in place. “We have to evaluate that and the good points. They have been there over the years and the organisation is very important to social cohesion and it is imperative that a project like the community employment scheme is kept in place and that it is expanded,” he said.
In a newsletter issued by the Community Workers’ Co-operative (CWC), an update was given in relation to the possible integration of the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP) and the CDP.
It stated, “The Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, John Curran TD, announced that the LDSIP and the CDP would be integrated in order to provide seamless social inclusion services to the most needy in Irish society. Whilst there has been speculation in relation to the integration of the LDSIP and CDP in the recent past, this is the first firm indication that this will happen before the 2010 programmes are announced.”
According to this document, the CWC sought clarifications from the department in relation to this and were informed “while not all the plans are in place yet, it is now certain that the CDP and the LDSIP will be integrated. This will be announced in the last quarter of 2009 for implementation in 2010”.
The newsletter item also stated that the management committers/boards of directors of the CDPs would be disbanded.
Ms Greene’s group is now calling on the East Clare community to lobby on their behalf by highlighting the positive work done in the region and encourage the public to write to their local representatives.


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