By Allen Meagher, ‘Changing Ireland’.
In preparation for the publication of this our 48th edition of ‘Changing Ireland’, we considered the need for the board, editorial team and other volunteers to head off for a 3-month strategic think-in on an atoll in the Pacific.
There’s a lot going on in terms of State funding and what it will fund in communities these days and what it won’t fund. Plenty to chew over in the mind.
And so the reports we carry in this edition of ‘Changing Ireland’ are intended to shake up your thinking, to examine the possiblities that are before us.
Ciara (front cover) calls for more investment in programmes such as the ‘Challenger Programme’ in Dublin 17 if we are to give everyone in our society the chance of a third-level education.
We’ve a strong focus throughout on projects that follow community development principles, the taking of collective action being one.
If people power - and it sure exists in this country - could be tapped and directed in a positive way, it seems Roscrea is pointing us in some of the right directions. Suicides and drug addiction hit the town hard and people have had enough. Obviously, they’re learning as they go along, but they’ve set a standard for small towns who despair that they are being left behind.
Notwithstanding the dedication of those involved in long-term community-based initiatives, Roscrea’s new approach teaches us to stand up and be counted. Their new approach, in co-operation with Gardai, State agencies and community workers, seems to be working so far.
Things are also looking up here in Limerick (don’t mind most of what you see on television or read in the ‘papers). The city has found a new way of dealing with conflict and it’s working in schools and across communities.
Meanwhile, in Maynooth, one of the key messages from the annual community development conference was that charities obviously have their place, but if you want to tackle poverty you need to take a human rights approach. Makes sense in this new 1% versus 99% world of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.
Finally, on behalf of those suffering from cuts to the community, health and education sectors, we hereby lay a claim on any money Apple is obliged to repay in taxes due - let it be spent on social inclusion. Only right!