Thursday, December 10, 2009

Budget 2010 - COMMUNITIES DOWN AT LEAST 10%

BY ALLEN MEAGHER

Some of the most severe recommendations in the McCarthy Report will not be implemented this year, but with a similar budget promised for next year and the year after, it's far from over for communities.

For now, commentators are talking about the cumulative effect of wide-ranging cuts to community supports on top of cuts to social welfare.

At the same time, there's
some good news, relatively speaking (see below).

Gross funding to the
Dept. of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs is down 13% for 2010 which means:
  • Funding for the combined budgets of the Community Development Programme and Local Development and Social Inclusion Programme (due to be integrated) are cut by 10% (equalling a cut of €7.1 m).
  • Community Services Programme reduced by 9% (or by €4.65m)
  • RAPID cut by 24%
  • Drugs Initiative cut by 11%
  • Community and Voluntary Supports cut by 10%
  • Clar funding is down 53%
Also:
  • Funding to the Family Support Agency is cut by 9% (or €3.1m); the agency has survived for now.
  • There will be cuts of €25m to the overseas aid budget for 2010. This follows 2009's massive cut by 24% (€224m).
And the good news (relatively speaking):
  • Charities will benefit from the 0.5% reduction in the VAT rate.
  • Funding will continue to 21 volunteer centres and other volunteering initiatives.
  • "Employment levels will be maintained at existing levels in 450 community projects under the Community Services Programme (CSP) by requiring projects to generate additional resources from their operations."
  • "Increased funding for the EU co-funded Rural Development Programme for Ireland 2007-2013 (LEADER)."
  • "A revised Scheme of Community Support for Older People will be introduced early in 2010, which will provide security equipment for upwards of 9,000 older people."
  • "Capital funding of €33m is being provided for the Gaeltacht and Islands in 2010." Does this mean the likes of the airfield in Inisbofin will open in 2010? Time will tell.
At individual level, among the hardest-hit are: newly jobless young people who may now think harder about emigrating. In 2010 they will see their benefits cut by 25% (to €150 per week) if they're under 25 years of age, and by 50% (to €100 per week) if aged between 20 and 22 years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Poor Can't Pay Campaign launches Video

Some of Ireland’s leading NGO’s and trade unions have joined forces to launch a new campaign called “The Poor Can’t Pay” which aims to mobilise active opposition to proposed cuts to basic social welfare payments or the minimum wage.

The Poor Can't Pay campaign said that people earning the minimum wage or living on social welfare did not cause Ireland's economic crisis and should not be forced to pay the price of the recession.

The campaign was launched as a joint initiative by the following NGO’s and trade unions: Age Action, Barnardos, CORI Justice, EAPN, Focus Ireland, INOU, Mandate, National Women’s Council of Ireland, SIPTU and SVP.




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Letter from 42 academics in support of CDPs.

This letter was published in today's Irish Times.

The topic will also be discussed tonight (Wednesday) on Vincent Browne's show on TV3.

=======================================

In the midst of all the coverage of cutbacks and the forthcoming budget, one major proposal has received very little attention. This is 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). This move will dispense with CDP voluntary management committees, will accommodate only some existing fulltime staff, but will redeploy the resources and funding generated by local communities into centralised LDSIPs. It is claimed that this “amalgamation” will give rise to cost efficiencies, but what is more cost efficient than volunteers who work for nothing in managing local resource centres, programmes, staff and funding?

CDPs provide an extraordinary range of programmes including childcare, support for those with disabilities, Travellers and older people. They are run by voluntary boards composed of local people who know and understand the needs of their own communities; these boards are demonstrably cost-effective and very well managed. Moreover, every euro allocated to them by the department has been matched by funding obtained from other sources.

We believe 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.

Under the proposed arrangements, voluntary boards will lose their role and be obliged to hand over the fruits of their work and fundraising to organisations at a remove from communities, where the vital local voice will no longer be heard.

The CDP programme as it stands is a shining example of self-empowerment and active, ethical citizenship and directly benefits those individuals and communities who did not enjoy the benefits of the Celtic Tiger and who are suffering disproportionately now.

We call on Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and on Minister for State John Curran to abandon this proposal and to guarantee the funding and autonomy of the CDP programme. It is needed now more than ever. – Yours, etc,

Prof KATHLEEN LYNCH, UCD;

Prof BRYAN FANNING, UCD;

Prof ANNE RYAN, NUIM;

Prof PAT O’CONNOR, UL;

Prof PEADAR KIRBY, UL;

Prof TOM LODGE, UL;

Prof ALASTAIR CHRISTIE, UCC;

Prof PATRICIA COUGHLAN, UCC;

RONNIE DORNEY, HSE South;

BARRY MURRAY, HSE South;

DENIS BARRETT, City of Cork VEC;

DENISE CHARLTON, Immigrant Council of Ireland;

NIALL CROWLEY, Independent equality expert;

Sr STANISLAUS KENNEDY, Focus Ireland;

SIOBHAN O’DONOGHUE, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland;

AILBHE SMYTH, Equality Rights Alliance;

Dr ANNE MacFARLANE, NUIG;

Dr ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, NUIM;

Dr BRÍD CONNOLLY, NUIM;

HILARY TIERNEY, NUIM;

Dr MARY GILMARTIN, NUIM;

Dr HILARY TOVEY, TCD;

Dr ELIZABETH KIELY, UCC;

Dr DENIS LINEHAN, UCC;

PIARAS Mac ÉINRÍ, UCC;

Dr CIARÁN McCULLAGH, UCC;

ROSIE MEADE, UCC;

Dr ORLA O’DONOVAN, UCC;

TOM O’CONNOR, Cork Institute of Technology;

Dr COLM O’DOHERTY, Institute of Technology Tralee;

Dr KIERAN ALLEN, UCD;

JOHN BAKER, UCD;

Dr ROLAND ERNE, UCD;

Dr ALICE FELDMAN,UCD;

Dr STEVEN LOYAL, UCD;

Dr ANDY STOREY, UCD;

Dr EOIN DEVEREUX, UL;

Dr BREDA GRAY, UL;

BRIAN KEARY, UL;

Dr ORLA McDONNELL, UL;

MARY O’DONOGHUE, UL &

Dr TINA O’TOOLE UL,

C/o School of Languages, Literature, Culture Communication, University of Limerick.

Earn an award - 3 days and the clock is ticking!

An Aontas award could be yours! Nominate your local adult learning project for an AONTAS STAR Award and do it fast!

The deadline for entries is this Friday, November 27th.

The AONTAS awards, now in its fourth year, celebrate teamwork, and recognise the achievements of those involved in adult learning around the country.

It's easy to enter. Nominations can be submitted online through the website www.adultlearnersfestival.com, or by email to mail@aontas.com.

A sample nomination form is available online to assist people completing their nominations.

More info: www.aontas.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CDPs on Liveline

On Monday 9th November, Joe Duffy got a call from a Kathleen O'Neill in Kilbarrack CDP about the proposed changes to the CDP programme. Once it got started, more people started ringing in including:
Mary Catherine Heanue from Inishturk Development Office
Ursula McKenna from Dochas for Women, Monaghan
Bray Traveller's CDP's Jim O'Brien,
Maurice McConville from Le Chéile CDP,
Martin Hamilton from Kilmore West CDP,
Mary McClorey from Southside CDP in Drogheda,
Harry Murphy from Crumlin CDP and
Liz Riches from Ballybeg CDP in Waterford.
Joe Duffy and the RTE listeners got the low down on what CDPs do for their communities around the country

Listen to the CDP discussion on Liveline. (mp3 file)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Health Corr gives CDPs a ringing endorsement



JOURNALIST GIVES BRILLIANT EXPLANATION OF WHAT CDPs REALLY DO

The author of the most penetrating book written in recent years on the Irish health service has given CDPs a ringing endorsement in a 7-minute interview on RTE's Drivetime. (Click 'community health workers').
Sara Burke has described the work that CDPs do as exceptional value for money and she paid tribute to volunteers' involvement and the ability of projects to do a great many things with very limited resources. While focusing chiefly on CDPs, Sara also drew attention to equally good work done by drugs projects, Family Resource Centres and a range of others.
Her interview was broadcast on Thursday last, September 24th, and Sara has just published a written report on CDPs on her blog.

COMMENT BELOW!!!

National Community Development Forum says merger "an attack on the poor"

The National Community Development Forum, the representative body for the country's 180 CDPs, has said it rejects proposals by Minister of State John Curran to merge two programmes, arguing that in the course of that process the "scheme will disempower the most marginalised of local communities across Ireland."

The Forum said there was no consultation, the plan was "an attack on the poor" and made a mockery of community development educational initiatives.

Forum chairperson Larry McCarthy said, “This move... will terminate the involvement of 2000 volunteers in deciding a little of what happens in their own communities and that undermines everything that Community Development stands for.”
The Forum called for talks with the Minister so he could "clarify some of the issues around the lack of consultation with, not alone the CDPs, but the service users."

For the full text, check the Forum's blog.

FOR AN UPDATE, SEE OUR BLOG ENTRY DATED NOVEMBER 25th, 2010, ON 'Where CDPs Now Stand'.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blanchardstown: Bonus for Volunteers!


Volunteers who work at the Vincent De Paul shop in Blanchardstown got a pleasant surprise last week when members of the local Traveller Community Employment scheme presented them with a variety of organic vegetables.
The vegetables were grown on the Travellers Allotment.

Our picture – from CE worker Tom Toner - shows Geraldine Collins of Blanchardstown Travellers CE (right) presenting a basket of mushrooms to shop manager Marie Murray (left) surrounded by shop volunteers and one of the gardeners.
The CE scheme is sponsored by the local CDP, the Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

QUESTIONS about the new programme - ANSWERS on our NEW BLOG


'Changing Ireland' has set up a NEW BLOG OF 10 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS for you to ADD COMMENTS. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs issued the answers today on behalf of the Minister for Community Affairs, John Curran.
- What about our communities, our project, our volunteer management, our jobs?
- How will the merger will take place between CDPs and Partnerships?
- When will it happen?
These are among the questions that are dealt with on our new blog.
Check it out and add YOUR COMMENTS.
I'm looking for critical, practical, positive comments. Of course, being positive about Community Development does not necessarily mean you have to respond positively to the Minister's proposals, but be realistic at the same time.

- Allen Meagher, editor

2 PROGRAMMES TO BE MERGED - CURRAN IN CAVAN


The Community Development Programme, first established in 1990, is to be absorbed into a new unnamed programme that also incorporates the Local Development and Social Inclusion Programme.
The announcement was made on Friday (Sept 18th) by Minister of State (MOS) John Curran at a Community and Voluntary Forum conference in Co. Cavan, although details on the plan were not given.
'Changing Ireland' has requested an interview with the MOS on questions that arise from the announcement.
In his speech in Cavan, he said:
"I am seeking improved alignment and focus across the range of programmes for which I have responsibility in the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. In this regard, I have been giving particular attention to the redesign of the Local Development Social Inclusion and the Community Development Programmes.
"I have to say that I am not convinced that two separate programmes and two separate delivery structures is the best way to serve the community. In the current economic climate, the case for a single focussed effective programme is, in my view, indisputable and I will be fighting for resources for the measures covered by the programmes on this basis in the context of the 2010 Budget."

An accompanying press release, which described the process in terms of the "integration" of the 2 programmes, quoted MOS Curran as saying: “We will continue to do everything we can to improve efficiency and prioritise the provision of frontline services to those who need them the most. One single, focussed programme will ensure that services will be more streamlined and will best serve those who use them.
“We are currently undertaking a thorough review of the Community Development Programme and will shortly have a full report on the findings and recommendations that arise from that review.
“Programme redesign work by the Centre for Effective Services is underway. Overall, we are preparing for a roll-out of a single, redesigned programme in 2010, in the context of the budgetary position.”

John Curran is the Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy and Community Affairs at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. He is from Clondalkin in Dublin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A letter from Crawford College of Art & Design - Some places still available


Dear Editor,

Please check out link below for updated information about a new course starting in October delivered through Crawford College of Art & Design in Cork. There are still some places left on our course in ARTS PARTICIPATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Creative approaches to Global Education and Action. It's an Accredited Programme.
I would be grateful if you could include application information in your news feed.

Kind Regards,
Nora Furlong

Monday, September 14, 2009

1200 "positive outcomes" marched against CDP cuts!


BY ALLEN MEAGHER, EDITOR
If you were there you know the score and well done for standing up for your community, your project and your jobs!
If you didn't make it, check out these marvellous photos on Indymedia by Paula Geraghty and this 3 minute video report by 'Changing Ireland'.

The National Community Development Forum held a meeting prior to the march and discussed the pressure on volunteers, the latest (CES) review of the Programme and related issues. More details in the next post.

Well done to SIPTU and to everyone involved in the march. Many projects are now starting to engage regionally in lobbying their politicians. The CDP cuts will be raised in Dail questions very shortly and more regional/local protests are on the way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tell us what you think of 'Changing Ireland'

Tell us what you think of 'Changing Ireland' by filling out our 2 minute, 1-page questionnnaire and email it to: editor@changingireland.ie
You can download the questionnaire here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

OUT NOW! - THE LATEST 'CHANGING IRELAND!


Our newest edition of 'Changing Ireland' is currently rolling through the presses in Offaly. If you want to see it before anyone else, check it out here.

The front cover tells the story of drastic cuts hitting communities across Ireland and what the Community Sector is saying and doing about it.
There are also features on 'Enabling Dissent', the rise of volunteering, and advice for community workers dealing with families of prisoners.
Plus news on:
- the introduction of standards for Community Development Work.
- the establishment by local volunteers and workers of a national body to represent projects in Ireland's poorest parts.
- Fine Gael's new policy that would see most community groups become part of the local authority structure.
Plus reviews of new books on changing the world and on how more equal societies are better for everyone.
Finally, the latest on Horace - our agony uncle - he has temporarily given up giving advice to pursue a legal claim against An Bord Snip for stealing all his ideas...
OUT NOW ON THE WEB! OUT NEXT WEEK IN PRINT!

Friday, August 14, 2009

8 WAYS COMMUNITY GROUPS CAN SAVE MONEY

Every tabloid magazine in the known universe has published articles this year about “getting through” the downturn/depression. Here are our ideas for non-profit organisations.
More ideas welcome. Please leave your comments/suggestions below:

1) Instead of paying an organisation for providing a trainer for a day, barter with them and offer a day’s training (in something your group/staff/volunteers are expert in) by way of payment.
2) If you’re with the ESB, change electricity supplier and save 10% - 13% per annum.
3) If you’re renting a premises, you can and should negotiate a reduction in rent with your landlord.
4) Remember email is free. It wasn’t around a bit over a decade ago.
5) You can text for free via the internet (eg www.vodafone.ie). Very handy for getting a message out to a group of people.
6) If you need to print something, you’ll save anything up to 20% by going green. ‘Changing Ireland’ changed over to vegetable inks and recycled paper last Autumn.
7) Bye-bye to paying people mad money to put a few pages of a website together for your organisation. There are companies nowadays offering ready-to-go websites (the layout is pre-set, you just add in your content) for a tenner a year and upwards. Tip – There are free websites too, but they’re a bit of hassle and very basic. Alternatively, set up a blog (a form of mini-website). It’s totally free and much easier than you think.
8) Seek out volunteers to do jobs. You need to support volunteers properly, for it to be beneficial for everyone. Log onto www.boardmatch.ie or have a think with your colleagues and make a few calls.



POST US A COMMENT. YOU CAN BE ANONYMOUS IF YOU PREFER.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rural Link sees Bord Snip proposals as “sinister”

Irish Rural Link (IRL) has published a 27-page critique of Bord Snip’s “sinister” proposals.
The 300-member organisation says one of the report’s main weaknesses is that it “hides the fact that cuts across a number of departments may impact on the same individual.”
Two-thirds of Ireland’s poor live in rural Ireland.
IRL said Bord Snip showed “disregard” for community groups, adding that “the lack of consideration for the community and voluntary element of work countering social exclusion is one of the most sinister underlying themes.”
It drew attention to “ignorance” in the report where it seeks to disband the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. As IRL point out, 40% of the population live in rural areas.
“The Report (also) fails to acknowledge that community and voluntary organisations deliver essential social services in areas such as education, mental health, disabilities and welfare for very vulnerable people,” say the Westmeath-based organisation.
In dissecting the report, IRL cross-tabulate the cuts proposed to various lines of Government spending. One of the most alarming threats to rural communities is to the Rural Transport Programme.
IRL’s board is seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance as soon as possible.
To download the report, visit: www.irishrurallink.ie

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ireland’s Community spirit never died, report finds - 2 out of 3 regularly engage in volunteering /community activities


Community spirit is alive and well in Ireland, according to a report by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) that makes minced meat of the widely held view that community spirit and volunteering declined during the boom years.

The report echoes views expressed to ‘Changing Ireland’ last year by a Volunteer Centres Ireland spokesperson saying volunteering had not gone into decline.

The CSO statistics show, on average, almost two-thirds of people in the Republic of Ireland regularly took part in voluntary or community activities.

Nonetheless, there remains a crisis in community participation levels in disadvantaged areas, particularly among those with low education, the unemployed, people in poor health, immigrants and older people.

Irish Times reporter Carl O’Brien lifted the story from the doldrums of a statistical report to give it the front-page treatment. He reports that “community ties seem particularly healthy” and says the CSO figures challenge the belief that the boom years eroded community spirit.

Read Carl’s main report here, further analysis here and the paper’s editorial from July 30th.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Galway Travellers Movement want alternatives to evictions


As most of Galway celebrated the City's arts festival, an Irish Times news report yesterday highlighted the work of one of Galway city's CDPs - the Galway Traveller Movement - to stand with the community against cultural oppression. While thousands of people planned parties, some families faced eviction.

A report launched two years ago by the Galway Traveller Movement found people were very proud to be Travellers, despite the discrimination they face.

BACKGROUND INFO
We re-publish here a photo (by Derek Speirs) from an exhibition held at that time by Galway Travellers Movement. It features Margaret and Nora Delaney. The full news on the 'Galway Traveller Movement Baseline Report' launch is available at: http://www.changingireland.ie/archive.html) Previous 'Changing Ireland' news reports over the years catalogue the work of the Galway Travellers Movement to stand up with the community against oppression.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Examiner leads with fears by Civil Society groups to protest too loudly



The Irish Examiner's lead front page story, in their edition dated Tuesday July 7th, has highlight the fear felt in Civil Society in Ireland - by groups representing and involving the poor and needy - to speak up and be heard.
To read the story, click here for the IRISH EXAMINER

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cutbacks to CE places reversed

Volunteers, workers and SIPTU mounted a successful campaign to have cuts to Community Employment Schemes reversed. At a time of rising unemployment, the Schemes need to be expanded if anything. €10m was due to be cut. Thankfully, the CE schemes will survive for now. Read the full story in the Irish Times report

Community questions on RTE's Prime Time


David Connolly, Siptu's Community Branch President, debated the decline in support for communities from Government with Minister of State John Curran, on June 11th on RTE's Prime Time. Click here to watch (may require broadband).

Welcome to the CHANGING IRELAND BLOG

We're glad you could join us!
We started adding video to our website this year. Now Changing Ireland has a blog for news as it happens.
Our blog highlights news relating to the Community & Voluntary Sector. We will highlight mainstream media reports, NGO news releases, community-related events and so on. Your comments are welcome.
Also, we will post new journalism and original interviews from 'Changing Ireland' in the blog, prior to publication in 'Changing Ireland' proper. The print magazine remains a core part of our work as it reaches well over 10,000 readers.

You can subscribe to this blog, to get a notification every time we post a new story.