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Kilkee loses out following €200,000 cuts

Countywide cuts of €200,000 in the Social Inclusion Programme will result in a very significant reduction of carer and social services in the Kilkee-based element of the Clare Local Development Company.

The January meeting of Kilkee Town Council on Monday expressed concern that up to 12 jobs could be either lost altogether or relocated to Kilrush or Ennis.
The Clare Local Development Company is responsible for the delivery of a range of rural and enterprise development, social inclusion, community development and environmental initiatives throughout the county. It incorporates Eirí Corca Baiscinn, Obair, Ennis West and Leader.
Kilkee town councillor Mary Owens raised the matter at this week’s meeting. The Fianna Fáil councillor requested that the council express support for the Kilkee service, adding that the post of enterprise officer had already been dispensed with and that carer and autism services were likely to be affected.
Furthermore some administrative positions have been cut, while the hours of at least three other employees have been reduced.
“It is a tragedy that those jobs are moving out of Kilkee,” town mayor Lily Marrinan Sullivan said. 
“You will have people in Kilrush who would love it to be brought there. It’s the expertise that people have access to that is being taken away,” she added.
“West Clare is going to be more isolated than ever,” Fine Gael town councillor Paddy Collins commented, while his party colleague, Elaine Haugh Hayes, claimed that the Clare County Development Company were “trying to centralise everything”.
Fianna Fáil town councillor Claire Haugh said that it was imperative that the services and the jobs were maintained in the town. 
“I think we should retain what we have in Kilkee. Let them all join up with the Kilkee group. Bring them back,” she said.
Clare Local Development Company CEO Dóirín Graham told The Clare Champion that Social Inclusion Programme funding had been cut by 20% from the almost €1 m 2009 budget.
“I’d be very well aware that people are really concerned in West Clare about the impact of the cuts on the services. We’re facing into a minimum of a 20% cut in the budget for that programme which is the programme that Eirí Corca Baiscinn would have previously delivered,” Ms Graham said.
“At the moment we’re looking at how we can implement the cuts. We’re going to try and make sure that we minimise the effect that it has on services but it’s probably impossible to implement a 20% cut without some effect on services. But we’ll try to minimise that as much as we can,” she added.
However, Ms Graham said that most of the Kilkee-based services would continue to operate from the western part of the county but that costs had to be addressed.
“They’ll be operating from West Clare anyway. What we’re doing is we’re we’re looking at all the costs that we have, including office, overheads and staffing costs. Everything is being looked at. Decisions will be made in the next few weeks by the board as to what’s the best way to implement the cuts. It may involve relocating some staff to other parts of West Clare, hopefully maintaining some presence in Kilkee, but this will depend on what all the possibilities are. It will depend on costs and what other accommodation might be available in the area,” the company CEO said.
However, Ms Graham insisted suggestions that all Kilkee-based services would be moved to Ennis were inaccurate.
“It is certainly not the case that everybody will be brought into Ennis. People who are delivering services out in West Clare need to be based out there. It’s a matter of how can we base people at the lowest possible cost and maintain the services. Keep the overheads down and try and keep the services at the highest possible level. But with a 20% cut, there will be some impact on services,” she said.
“People’s expectations and hopes that they had for the programme just can’t be met now. That’s because of circumstances beyond our control. It would be unrealistic to say that nothing would be affected,” Ms Graham added.
She said that if the decision making was West Clare-based, the same conclusion would have been arrived at.
“Even if Eirí Corca Baiscinn was still an independent entity out in West Clare, a 20% cut would be the equivalent of €100,000 taken off their budget. That would be the equivalent of two jobs they would lose. It would affect services even if those decisions were being made out in West Clare. It’s not that those decisions are being made because we’re a countywide organisation. The same difficult decisions would be there if the local West Clare organisation was still there, as it had been for the last 11 or 12 years,” Ms Graham concluded.


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