Community development

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Community Development Programme

The Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs John Curran told Roisin Shortall (Lab, Dublin NW) that the appeals of Community Development Programme (CDP) projects against closure had been concluded on 29th January and a report published (Dail Eireann, Debates, 2nd February 2010, 1019).  The minister of state told her that in the case of projects whose closure was confirmed, it was up to voluntary boards of management to decide the project’s future.  Where companies decided to wind up, his department would assist directors in discharging their statutory responsibilities, which could include limited financial assistance and due account would have to be taken of any liabilities arising.

The Minister of State John Curran gave further details of the appeals process to Jack Wall (Lab, Kildare S) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 4th February 2010, 522-4).  Originally, 29 CDP projects had been deemed to be non-viable.  24 appealed against the decision, of which 10 were successful and 14 unsuccessful.  The unsuccessful ones were, with 2009 grant listed:

Clonmel Traveller Development project, co Tipperary  €66,800

Ballymun Community Action Project, Dublin 11   €123,484

Community Technical Aid, Dublin 1     €128,122

Edenmore CDP, Dublin 5       €74,268

Equal Access, Dublin 24       €86,954

Inner City Renewal Group, Dublin 1     €116,193

Kilmore West CDP, Dublin 5      €106,459

LINK CDP, Dublin 10       €111,334

North Clondalkin CDP, Dublin 22     €89,388

North West Inner City Women’s Network, Dublin 7  €79,612

Partners, Dublin 6        €132,540

PIECE, Dublin 17        €39,762

Southside CDP, Louth       €98,963

West Tallaght Resource Centre, Dublin 24    €156,594

23 staff were funded in these projects.  The staffing level of the successful projects continuing into the new Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) was 290.  The new programme would be implemented by 53 local development companies and the remaining CDPs.

Later, Charlie O’Connor (FF, Dublin SW) questioned the basis on which the West Tallaght Resource Centre was to be closed (Dail Eireann, Debates, 10th February 2010, 1080-1).  The Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs John Curran said that he was prepared to meet the board of the company.  His primary concern was to make every effort to ensure that front-line services were protected.  Local development companies will, under the new programme, identify and meet the needs of communities and he had asked that particular attention be given to RAPID areas and places where CDPs were no longer operating.

Later, Brian O’Shea (Lab, Waterford) raised the future of the programme in Waterford city (Dail Eireann, Debates, 9th March 2010, 558).  Responding, the minister of state explained that his department had set out a model for service delivery at local level, including the reconstitution of voluntary boards of CDP projects from end 2010.  His department had taken care in this design and it had been conveyed to CDPs that if better models were proposed by them, they would be accepted if they achieved integrated and cost effective delivery.  In his department’s view, the model proposed for Waterford did not meet this objective and in fact would create additional structures.  It did not have the potential to achieve the efficiencies required or to reduce the heavy administrative and legal burdens currently required of CDP board members.

Later, Joe O’Reilly (FG, industrial & commercial) raised the question of how much funding in the new LCDP programme would be allocated to the former CDP projects (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 9th March 2010, 454 – 7).  Projects had two weeks until the end of March in which to devise work plans that would mean that from the end of next year they would no longer own their own premises, minivans for which they fund-raised or youth clubs they might build.  ‘This is mad and wrong and community groups are annoyed by it’.  He cited the cases of two projects in Cavan – South West Cavan CDP and Community Connections – and they sought the security of knowing that money would be ring-fenced for them in the future.  He did not seek additional money, merely the security of existing projects in the new programme and knowing that their activity would continue.

Responding for the government, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Michael Finneran told the Seanad that he was aware of opposition among some CDPs to the model of integrated service delivery.  Maintaining the status quo though was never an option given the issues related to the delivery of the old programme, the concerns of the Committee of Public Accounts about the multitude of structures in the system, the criticisms in the McCarthy report and the current budgetary reality.  Their aim was to preserve and protect the volunteers on the current boards of the CDPs by giving them new roles in advisory councils for the programme locally without the burden of company law requirements.  This would reduce the level of reporting to the department and the Companies Registration Office and would have useful spin-off of reduced overheads for audits, payroll and other back-office costs and would maximize the impact of available funding at the front line.  He had been able to ring fence funding for CDP projects for 2010 and maintain it at 2009 levels, something which had been possible in few other public spending areas, but it was not possible to speculate on the terms, conditions and levels of LDCP funding for the local development companies from 2011.

Joe O’Reilly:  We want the funding to be spent by the CDPs and given to them directly.  If something is not broken, why fix it?  The CDPs are doing a significant job and are properly audited and managed.  Their process can be transparent and money would go through local structures.  The proposal is not tenable and I ask the minister of state to bring this message to the relevant department.

Michael Finneran:  Okay.

> Related references: Dail Eireann, Debates, 16th February 2010, 452-3, 455-6; 18th February 2010, 848-850

> In the related area of the Community Services Programme (CSP), the Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv told the Dail that the budget for the programme would be €46m in 2010, down from €50m in 2009.  Faced with a choice of reducing employment in the 450 projects concerned, which he was very reluctant to do, he had decided to discontinue the non-wage grant (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th February 2010, 826-8).  Applications for the 2010 programme closed in January, but he would not refuse late applications.  50 groups had sought reviews and it was not his intention that good projects be lost.

> In the area of work of the local drugs task forces, the Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs John Curran gave details of the allocation of the drugs initiative supported by his department (Dail Eireann, Debates, 16th February 2010, 453-4; 454-5).  Funding was €64.332m in 2008, €40.611m in 2009 and €36.182m in 2010, the reduced allocation reflecting transfer of the Young People Facilities and Services Fund to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.  The new Office of the Minister for Drugs (OMD) had announced its funding for the drugs task forces on 22nd December last (> Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th February 2010, 843-4) (> For a list of task force allocations for 2007-2010, see Dail Eireann, Debates, 9th March 2010, 559).

> Giving information on the Dormant Accounts Fund, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv told the Dail that transfers to the fund had now totalled €513.9m.  Funds reclaimed by account holders were €185.1m.  The value of the fund was now €41.5m, excluding €49.4m held in reserve against future claims (Dail Eireann, Debates, 23rd February 2010, 201-2).

> In the area of local development and the RAPID programme, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon O Cuiv told the Dail that he had met RAPID local Area Implementation Teams (AIT) in January to discuss with them the boundaries of the 46 RAPID areas (Dail Eireann, Debates, 2nd March 2010, 860-1).  Each AIT had been asked to examine proposed boundary changes and either confirm their agreement or make suggested amendments.  This work was underway, a number of areas had requested amendments and these were now being examined.