Wednesday, June 30, 2010

LATEST - Minister says CDPs and Partnerships should "look to the future" within the LCDP

The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey, has said that Community Development Projects and Local Development Companies (aka Partnerships) have “nothing to fear” from the new LCDP model of integration which is being applied to the sector.

The Minister today issued a statement acknowledging "the incredible work" being done by CDPs and LDCs and said everything he was doing was about maintaining services:

"Despite the tone of some coverage of the redesign of community/local development programmes and integration strategy, those involved in community development have absolutely nothing to fear from the new model. It is all about ensuring that frontline services are maintained and that the important services currently being provided continue to play a vital role in strengthening our most disadvantaged and marginalised communities.”

On Monday, Minister Carey told ‘Changing Ireland’ in an interview to be published in our upcoming magazine:

“My view is it would be better for all the citizens of this country, who are recipients of the services, and be in everybody’s interest if people (meaning projects) said let’s knuckle down and work out how we’re going to develop this process for the next number of years and how we’re going to do it.

“It is too easy to do this year what we did last year and the year before. We have always got to be really smart intellectually in what we’re doing.

“I believe in Community Development as a vehicle for change, but I don’t believe that vehicle can’t be changed, modified.

In today’s statement, Minister Carey urged CDPs and LDCs to "look to the future" and insisted that the Programme redesign was in line with best international practice and had nothing to do with the closing of CDPs or the cessation of the essential services they provide to communities nationwide.

"I acknowledge the incredible work carried out by CDPs and LDCs but communities change and the challenges faced by communities change. Accordingly our approach to those challenges must change. We need to look to the future."

The DCEGA has set out a national model involving full integration of CDPs with local development companies (LDCs), but the Minister (as stated in our blog report yesterday) has made it clear that other options have been considered and that it is not a question of 'one size fits all'. Alternative models are required to meet a range of criteria, including a reduction in the number of structures, promoting the potential for integrated delivery of services to the public, supporting efficiencies and reducing the burden of company law compliance for CDPs.

"The only unacceptable option is one that seeks to preserve the status quo and some models proposed by CDPs and other parties since the launch of the LCDP have been rejected on that basis,” said the Minister.

His statement today said that unless a project has received provisional approval from the Department for an alternative LCDP integration model, groups are required to submit their plans for full integration by today, June 30th.

He had earlier left the door just slightly ajar telling ‘Changing Ireland’ he might allow for “injury time” while stressing that the deadline was at the same time not being extended.

"May I take this opportunity to reassure all concerned that my focus remains firmly on ensuring that scarce resources are targeted at the most vulnerable communities through optimising our efforts and resources at the front-line,” added Minister Carey.

He also drew attention to an often overlooked element of the last budget:

"It should also be noted that funding for community development projects for 2010 has been ringfenced and maintained at 2009 levels. In few other areas of public spending has it been possible to do this."

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Minister Carey - on Travellers, Women, national organisations, the Department's new strength, cuts


As promised in Tuesday’s blog entry, here’s more from our ‘Changing Ireland’ interview with the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey.

The scheme for funding National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector is now coming to the end of its three-year cycle but the signs are positive that it will be continued under Minister Pat Carey.

The Minister and his officials are meanwhile aware and working to deal with particular concerns of Women’s CDPs and Traveller CDPs as part of the emerging Local and Community Development Programme.

The Minister noted that the media had written-off his Department earlier this year and couldn’t have got it more wrong as it has doubled in size.

“The new Department will be a serious, policy-driven department. There’s a huge amount of expertise here. I think this Department will be quite a significant crucible for ideas,” he said.

Here are some further extracts from the interview:

Editor, Allen Meagher: Would your intention be that the scheme for funding National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector would continue?

Minister Pat Carey: “I don’t want to anticipate anything, but I’ve to be honest, it’s an approach that worked very well. I started the process of (funding for) a three-year (period). You need that.”

Editor: So you would hope to have another similar scheme?

Minister: “I would yes. I’m satisfied from dealing with it. But there’s a review going on because there could be new emerging needs and there might be very valid new groups out there who aren’t getting a half-penny (yet).”

Editor, Allen Meagher: With regard to the LCDP, is there any special provision being made for Traveller CDPs. I understand there’s an issue for them with Partnership boards that don’t generally have Traveller representatives?

Minister: “I’ve met with the main Traveller organisations and my view is that a model will be developed which will address the concerns and the needs of the Traveller community.”

Editor: And how about Women’s CDPs?

Minister: “The same thing.”

Editor: Will Gaeltacht CDPs be going in under Udaras?

Minister: “A small number, maybe.”

Would you agree that the Community Sector has been disproportionately cut, as claimed in research published today?

“I don’t want to anticipate the next budget.”

The Sunday Business Post suggested that communities are in for bigger cuts than other areas?

“This Department (of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs ) was three months ago due to be abolished, it’s now doubled in size so I wouldn’t pay a huge amount of attention to that.”

THAT’S IT FOR NOW! THE FULL INTERVIEW WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE UPCOMING PRINT EDITION OF ‘CHANGING IRELAND’.

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Examiner gives front page to 4,500 job cuts in Community Sector

Research work last month by Brian Harvey and IMPACT showed that 4,500 jobs and €80m in cuts could hit disadvantaged communities this year.

The research by Harvey and the trade union received front page coverage in the Irish Examiner on Monday.

'Changing Ireland' asked Minister Pat Carey that very day was he pleased with the coverage and he said he was, but he declined to say whether or not he agreed that cuts to the Community Sector were "disproportionate".

Brian's research shows the Community Sector may lose 4,500 jobs in 2010 and is struggling with 9-10% cuts which is above the average.

The Ballyphehane/Togher Community Development Project in Cork, Parents Alone Support Services CDP in Dublin and Minister Pat Carey, SIPTU's Gerry Flanagan, independent councilor Cieren Perry and the Community Worker's Co-op's Ann Irwin were among those interviewed for the 2-page spread inside.

Examiner lead story:

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/4500-jobs-at-risk-80m-cut-for-social-schemes-123597.html

Brian’s full report for IMPACT can be downloaded from:

http://www.impact.ie/iopen24/pub/general/HarveyReport2010.pdf

There are online links to the Examiner’s coverage of the 2 CDPs:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2010/0628/ireland/one-more-cut-and-were-gone-says-lone-parent-group-123539.html#ixzz0sKUbyEOc

AND

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/theres-work-being-done-that-cant-be-measured-on-paper-123538.html#ixzz0sKUQxens

ALSO SEE:

http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/community-groups-in-crisis-123537.html

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

INTERVIEW - Minister Carey says 'no' to national forum proposal, but 'yes' to some local proposals

‘Changing Ireland’ interviewed Minister Pat Carey yesterday on a range of topics, including a key question over changing structures for State support for communities within the framework of the Local and Community Development Programme.

A lot of people had pinned hopes on the new Minister taking fully on board proposals coming from the ground up and initial comments by the Minister at events in Cork and Kerry recently were promising.

Many voluntary boards of Community Development Projects and some Partnership companies were hoping he would give the ‘ok’ for Service Level Agreements (SLA) between CDPs and other agencies. It would have meant that staff could remain employed by the same board of local volunteers and would not have to transfer to join the staff of the larger Partnership companies.

However, while the Minister didn’t rule out SLAs entirely, he yesterday said each proposal would be judged on its own merits, area-by-area.

Two SLA proposals involving roughly a dozen projects in both Limerick city and Cork city and county have already been accepted.

However, communities in Galway, Youghal, Tipperary and Donegal (among others) have had SLA proposals rejected.

And nationally, the Minister yesterday rejected the idea of allowing CDPs countrywide to enter into SLAs, as proposed by the National Community Development Forum.

The deadline for submitting ‘integration plans’ or alternatives proposals is officially tomorrow, June 30th. However, the Minister has left the door ajar, just about.

Here’s how he handled the question over SLAs. The interviewer was Allen Meagher:

Interviewer: The Service Level Agreement model has been pushed by a good number of CDPs and by the National Community Development Forum. Is that something that you view favourably?

Minister: It could work in some circumstances but not in all.

Interviewer: Can you explain what those circumstances are?

Minister: No, because.. (cut off by interviewer).

Interviewer: I know Cumann na nDaoine CDP in Youghal put in a proposal.

Minister: If you’re talking about one size fits all, what might apply in A-Community might not apply in B-Community.

…I’m not prepared to say here and now ‘yeah, that’ll be grand’. It’s going down to the one size fits all.

Interviewer: Your officials have rejected most SLA proposals to date (apart from the Limerick model and the Cork model). Might one be accepted in the future?

Minister: It’s possible yes.

Interviewer: There’s a June 30th deadline. This interview is taking place 2 days before that deadline. Are you willing to extend that deadline?

Minister: No, I need some clarity about where we’re going to go.

Interviewer: If somebody did come along next week and proposed (an alternative) would it be too late?

Minister: We can apply injury time.


OTHER QUESTIONS WE PUT TO THE MINISTER INCLUDED:

1) Are special arrangements being made for Traveller CDPs and for Women’s CDPs?

2) Are FRCs next in line for absorption into the Local and Community Development Programme?

3) What hopes has the Minister for his new and stronger Department?

4) Will the Minister accept that the cuts to the Community Sector are disproportionate, as a report by Brian Harvey suggests? The story was the page one lead in yesterday’s Irish Examiner.

5) What’s the story on support for community groups on the ground in inner-city Dublin where the Dublin Inner City Partnership has been closed down?

6) Relating to Shell’s work in North Mayo, had the Minister a view on the imprisonment of campaigner and trawler fisherman Pat O’Donnell?

7) We also asked the Minister about the role of the Centre for Effective Services.

MORE IN OUR NEXT BLOG ENTRY… TOMORROW.

AND THE FULL INTERVIEW WILL BE PUBLISHED IN OUR NEXT PRINT EDITION OF ‘CHANGING IRELAND’, DUE OUT LATER THIS MONTH.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Appeal for reversal of cuts in addiction counselling

Funding to drugs projects has been cut nationwide this year, despite protests, and today John Cregan, Fianna Fail TD, hit out at newly announced cuts to drugs services in County Limerick.

The Youth Drug Prevent Project in Kilmallock and the Newcastle West Based Drugs Initiative have been told that their funding will end this month, meaning both projects will have to close their doors.

John blamed the Mid-Western Regional Drugs Task Force for the loss of the two counsellors involved and said there would now be nowhere local for people struggling with addiction in these parts of Limerick to seek help.

He appealed on the local radio station Live 95 FM for the cuts to be "reversed".

Ironically, John's intervention comes just one day after drugs workers in Limerick city held a successful drugs information day (see yesterday's blog report) showing there were places for families and addicts to go in the city.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The work goes on - Southill's day of action on drugs



- COMMUNITY WORK ON THE GROUND
- 100 ATTEND DRUGS INFO DAY IN SOUTHILL
- Limerick, June 23rd, 2010

The Local and Community Development Programme is due to take off by the end of this year - the structures are being argued over up and down of the country - and in the meantime the work on the ground in communities continues.
Southill CDP in Limerick today brought together 12 staff from 10 agencies involved in anti-drugs work for a public information day on drugs.
A lot of parents brought along their children to see what drugs look like, so they would recognise the dangers when confronted by the real thing.
'Changing Ireland' met a mother of an eight-year-old concerned about the way schoolchildren are being targeted. She was determined to educate her child before it was too late. Others sought advice on the day from Slainte, Aljeff, North Star, Cuan Mhuire, Victory Outreach from Cork and others on the way through addiction.
Caroline Keane is a community-based Drugs Education Worker and she says alcohol and nicotine are the most widely used drugs in Southill.
She was pleased at the end of the day: "We had 100 local people along today and 30 of them signed up for training." The training includes joining a Community Addiction Studies course starting in September.

Group photo above: John Hehir, Denise McNamara and Zoe Hehir who
attended the drugs information day and organiser Caroline Keane.

Photos below: Close-up shots of of patches from the North Star quilt. Each patch is in memory of someone who died before their time.

This report is the beginning in a series showing how local work around the country continues, while policy makers, politicians and community activists seek at the same time to influence the shape and structure of the new Local and Community Development Programme.




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In recent work via facebook, we have worked alongside members of the facebook site 'Hands Off Community Development' and Pavee Point to counteract racist websites. Two anti-Traveller sites (here's what one of the offensive sites looked like) were removed by facebook after presssure from activists and concerned citizens.
It was a case of every cloud having a silver lining. Community workers and volunteers came together on facebook to work together to fight cutbacks and thanks to that coming together they were in a position to force facebook to close down the racist websites.

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