SIR – The following is the text of an open letter I have sent to Deputies Michael Collins, Jim Daly and Margaret Murphy O’Mahony:
I was dismayed to learn of the outcome of the National Selection Committee on LEADER in West Cork and I seek your help to explain its justification and its delivery implications.
I have volunteered for years in local community groups and see daily how WCDP’s delivery of LEADER funding through community-wide and local enterprise projects has benefitted both its society and economy in so many ways. Their expertise in successfully and fairly delivering community-led, bottom-up development programmes was confirmed just last year by the government when they were selected to implement the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) across West Cork on behalf of Pobal.
As my experienced public representatives with access to information, I am turning to you for your help with the answers to the following questions:
1. What experience does the LCDC have in bottom-up, community-led development that underpins LEADER? As a West Cork resident, I appreciated the numerous opportunities provided by WCDP to participate in their public consultations for months last year in meetings across the region to input to the West Cork Local Development Strategy for 2014-2020.
I did not hear of any public consultation by the LCDC in my local area over the same period. Where did the LCDC conduct their consultations with the communities of West Cork, who and how many attended to input to this vital local strategy?
2. What delivery mechanisms does the LCDC have in place to implement their strategy across West Cork’s challenging geography of inter-dependent urban hubs, inland countryside, peninsulas and islands?
3. What personnel experienced in bottom-up, community-led local development do the LCDC have in offices on the ground, where are their offices located and what community-based volunteers has the LCDC established relationships of goodwill and collaboration with over the last 25 years, as in the case of WCDP, who do so much unpaid work behind the scenes to subsidise EU and national funding of LEADER?
4. Where can a member of the public in West Cork access the full Local Development Strategy applications submitted by the LCDC and that submitted by WCDP?
5. Where can a member of the public in West Cork access the findings of the National Selection Committee that explains their decision?
I look forward to your responses to each of the five questions above in a matter of such importance to our communities and their economies into the future. I am copying this to WCDP, The Southern Star and Dr Brendan O’Keeffe, Irish rural development expert at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.
Caroline Crowley, PhD,