The Budget and Community Development Projects
On November 25, the Irish Times published this letter from a number of academics and non-governmental organisations highlighting an important cutback which may rear its head in the forthcoming budget:
[the] intention of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to wind down and close all 182 community development projects (CDPs) across the most disadvantaged communities in the State. The department intends to close CDPs deemed “unviable” immediately, and to ask those deemed “viable” to voluntarily close and be incorporated into a larger centralised structure, run by Local Development Social Inclusion Partnership companies (LDSIP)
Although the Department has argued that the amalgamation will be more economically efficient, Wednesday’s letter insists that:
the agenda behind this proposal has little to do with cost savings but much to do with the dislike in certain quarters for an innovative programme which has given a direct and effective voice to local communities to decide on their own needs and priorities.
Of particular concern is the prospect, recently highlighted by Senator David Norris, that CDPs, if disbanded, will be asked to surrender their assets to the government. He said:
This is nothing other than a smash and grab raid. So much for the Government’s commitment to promote active citizenship, participatory democracy and local consultation. There have been no examinations, reviews or evaluations of these projects, some of which have been dismissed as non-viable. Those which are viable are told to dissolve and surrender their assets. In Ballybeg, County Waterford, the parish centre is legally an asset of the community’s development project. It was given to the project by the Dominicans and later funds were raised by local people, with up to 20 women walking to Dublin, among other projects, to raise money to furnish and equip the centre and add an extension. The project has recently been told to surrender the centre to the Government. This is a smash and grab raid. These matters must be consistently and continually raised in the House because the Government has disabled every voice for the people concerned. It is disgraceful in this circumstance that this is the way the Government is behaving.
Tonight With Vincent Browne ran interviews with a number of community organisers on this issue on November 26. You can follow the struggle of those involved in CDP to retain their autonomy at the blog of the National Community Development Forum.