Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Community Spokesperson Deputy Brian Stanley called upon the government to ensure that funding is made available to the community and voluntary sector.
The Laois-Offaly TD said;
“The Government has proposed to introduce legislation that will affect how the community sector is funded through the Dormant Accounts Fund.
“At the end of 2010 there was in the region of €158 million in the Dormant Accounts Fund, of which €62 million was by its own reckoning available for disbursement. The fund is also bringing in an additional €40-€45 million per year from dormant accounts. We have long said that monies could be allocated in multi-annual grants to give projects some security and the ability to plan ahead.
“However the community sector has been targeted disproportionately by government cuts since the commencement of the economic downturn. In 2009, when public expenditure actually increased by 6%, the then Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht had its budget cut by 8%. In 2010 the Department’s budget cut of 10% was again disproportionate considering the overall adjustment.
Community sector groups are now afraid to take a critical stance in relation to government positions because they will be penalised with withdrawals of funding. The Community Workers Co-operative is a case in point. They criticised the Local and Community Development Programme and then lost 100% of their funding. Without reinstatement of funding the Community Workers Co-operative is facing closure at the beginning of July with the loss of the CWC Staff team. This is a scandal.
“If the Government is not going to fund public services themselves then it must fund the community and voluntary sector, and not use organisation’s dependency on central Government funding to gag them with.”