THE former CEO of West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP) said that he and his fellow workers do not regret anything in how they operated the LEADER programme in West Cork.
Ian Dempsey was speaking to The Southern Star after six employees, including him, were made redundant last Friday, following the loss of the LEADER programme in June, which the WCDP had delivered to West Cork since the 90s.
‘We did as much as we could and we wouldn’t change anything we did either and, if losing our jobs is the price we have to pay, so be it,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘All six of us worked full-time or part-time in the LEADER programme and that’s the impact of losing the contract for it as the LEADER funding was the biggest element in WCDP and it would have also supported the role of the CEO.’
WCDP had challenged the decision of Cork County Council to grant the West Cork Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) the right to administer the multi-million EU fund for local development in West Cork. However, they were unsuccessful in their appeal and the European Commission is to now investigate a complaint that the rival group, West Cork LCDC received State aid.
Mr Dempsey said that redundancies were unavoidable and he pointed out that, until they put out the message about the job losses last week, people didn’t understand that the loss of the LEADER programme would have an impact on staff numbers.
‘People have been really supportive since we made the announcement and we have had lots of messages of support from groups who worked with us on various programmes through LEADER.’
Ian Dempsey said he’s going to take some time off and ‘get back up on the horse again.’ He explained: ‘We will have to see how things play out now and one thing we want to do is set the record straight and that our experience on the whole issue hasn’t been a good one.
‘It’s not enough just to say it and we will publish our findings and then people can take from that what they see,’ added Mr Dempsey.
He stated that they are all disappointed about what bought them to this situation: ‘People were unhappy with the process and we are all as one on our positions and we don’t regret anything. The European Commission calls for a fair and open transparent process and we are saying this didn’t happen.’
Mr Dempsey added that both he and the other staff members will be ‘watching from a distance’ as to how the situation evolves.
In a posting on the WCDP Facebook page, the six employees thanked the people of West Cork and beyond and they said they ‘remain deeply proud of our work throughout West Cork over the last 24 years.
‘For us it’s been a privilege to make a contribution, however small, to community and economic life in the region. We always sought to do the right things in the right ways, but in itself, this is no longer enough.’
Messages of support from a wide section of people and community groups who worked with the team on projects were posted on their Facebook page following the job loss announcement.