By Kieran O’Mahony
THE cuts to LEADER funding for the mid-Cork area could spell disaster for many communities depending on the programme to fund their projects.
IRD Duhallow announced last November that 16 communities in the mid-Cork area which include the areas of Kilmurry, Macroom, Crookstown and Newcestown, will be served with a budget of just €142,500 over the next five years.
This reduced figure actually means that each of the 16 communities would only manage to secure an average of €1,781 per year until 2020 under the new LEADER programme.
In Ballinagree, just outside Macroom, the newly-formed community development group had high hopes of securing sufficient funding to develop several projects that they had earmarked as part of their 10-year Community Plan, but this is now in doubt.
‘This funding is the glue to keep our communities together and the need for it is real in our community,’ Pat O’Leary, secretary of Ballinagree Community Development Group (BCDG), told The Southern Star.
‘We have no playground or community centre and nowhere for people to gather in the community and this funding was to form the central plank of our financing. Even for us to develop a playground, the costs alone for such a project could be in the region of €100,000. Therefore, there is a real and urgent need for a review of these cuts to funding.’
Like many community groups in the area, they are not seeing this as a fait accompli and have been busy contacting their local elected representatives to push for a reversal of the cuts.
‘We’ve been onto all the TDs and councillors in our area and we’re chasing it up with all our local representatives. One thing we would like to get across is to ensure that these 16 communities are aware of this cut to funding. There’s no point whingeing and moaning. It’s time to get onto the local representatives as they will be knocking on the doors for votes soon.’
Pat is calling on the other community groups affected by the cuts to stand up and be counted.
‘We’re working hard to get action on this and we need our fellow community groups to do the same. And now is the time to do something about it. We will continue to stay in regular contact with our elected representatives and we’re fairly dogged and determined on this issue.’
The BCDG has done a huge amount of work in the short few months since they formed, and none of this would have been possible without the aid of the local development groups.
‘The staff at IRD Duhallow, West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP) and the South and East Cork Area Development Partnership (SECAD) have been of enormous assistance in helping us to get organised in terms of our group structure, community plan and possible sources of finance but the fact remains that funding has been slashed for the 16 community groups in the area,’ added Pat.