Sinn Féin EU candidate for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has said that changes to the way LEADER funding is managed and administered will have devastating consequences for North Tipperary LEADER Partnership.
Ni Riada made the comments as she met with the Chairman and CEO North Tipperary LEADER, Mr Jim Finn and Michael Murray in Nenagh.
“The changes to the way local development is organised will have serious consequences for the community and rural development programmes here in North Tipperary.
“Currently, North Tipperary LEADER partnership, an independent non-profit organisation, manages and administers LEADER funding for development programmes in the region.
“The Partnership is run by volunteer directors and its work is centred around tackling poverty, social inclusion, enterprise creation and educational supports for the long –term unemployed.
“All programmes are delivered through a community-led, bottom-up approach which has been recognised by the EU as best-practice.
“However, the planned changes will see the management of funding being transferred away from the partnership to local authority led entities.
“This is extremely worrying as certain programmes will be put out for public tendering allowing for-profit companies and multi-nationals to apply. This would see profit becoming the central aim of the services.
“If the North Tipperary Partnership looses core programmes to for-profit companies this will have devastating consequences for other social inclusion services delivered by the organisation such as childcare and youth supports. There is the very real danger that the partnership would cease operating.
“This Government needs to recognise the best-practice approach and turn away from a model that will lead to the privatising of community work. The community-led ethos must be preserved with participants needs being prioritised over profit.”