Community development

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Dormant Accounts: warning of slush fund

The Dormant Accounts Bill 2011 was approved by the Dail and referred to committee (Dail Eireann, Debates, 3rd May 2012, 231-242).  Aengus O Snodaigh (SF, Dublin SC) warned of the dangers that the fund now become a ministerial slush fund: it should be open to oversight from an Oireachtas committee.  He was adamant that the minister should not have it within his gift to administer the fund and the Bill should be amended to make sure that it did not promote political patronage.  It was important everything be as transparent as possible.  

 

He supported the idea of the fund, so that money which was only benefitting the financial institutions could be used for the benefit of all.   He would like to see money from the Criminal Assets Bureau go the Dormant Accounts Fund, rather than have it treated as ordinary revenue, as should money which judges ordered be paid into the poor box, but we did not know where it went.  Money available for community groups had diminished in the past number of years, he continued.  They have had to cut back on programmes and scoured everywhere for summer projects and senior citizen outings, further education, keep fit and so on.  If dormant accounts were restructured the way he suggested, then that could restore faith in some struggling communities.  They now had to fundraise among people who had been hit through increased costs of living and more taxes.  Community organizations had scaled back their hours and opening times, or cancel projects altogether.  The purpose of the fund was to address disadvantage ‘and I do not mean disadvantage that emerged this year or last year.  Some of the areas that benefitted in a small way from the moneys in dormant accounts have been disadvantaged for generations.  While this pot will not solve their problems and will not address all of their issues, it might help with some of the smaller issues or give a leg-up to some of the projects and schemes, whether it be the case of educational schemes, after school clubs, creches, school arts and music programmes which try to lift an area in general’.