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Adams Praises work of Community and Voluntary sector

11 October, 2011 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking during this evenings Private Members debate in the Dáil praised the work of “those many men and women in the community and voluntary sector who work tirelessly to help others.”

Teachta Adams described the community and voluntary sector as “the cement which holds communities, especially disadvantaged communities, together.

“Without their efforts those with disabilities, our young, our elderly, vulnerable families, ethnic minorities, lone parents, and the increasing numbers of citizens on low and middle incomes who are being pushed further into poverty, would be in even greater distress than they are.”

The Sinn Féin leader said:

“Sinn Féin believes that there is enormous untapped potential in the community and voluntary sector, as a service provider, a source of employment and an advocate for change.

“The community sector is estimated to be worth €6.5 billion to the Irish economy, three times the size of the State’s investment, proving that the community and voluntary sector is a cost effective medium for the provision of many vital services. It also provides an estimated 50,000 full-time jobs with large numbers of part time workers increasing this number.

“In these difficult economic times of high unemployment and cuts to public services, community organisations are working hard to sustain their efforts and at the same time trying to deal with the additional pressures created by the government’s cuts strategy.

“Instead of their efforts being commended and supported by government, community and voluntary groups are under constant attack. And there is a widespread anticipation that the December budget is going to see the community and voluntary sector squeezed again. Many groups are already suffering from cutbacks.

“These have targeted programmes that serve the most vulnerable in our society. Many others are worried that existing posts are at risk.

“Sinn Féin believes that the community and voluntary sector should be resourced in a way that removes uncertainty, and the endless effort required to chase after short-term funding.

“One way of doing this would be to introduce multi-annual funding which would allow organisations to plan ahead and end the practice of funding bodies requiring the production of detailed business plans before giving any indication of the size of the budget available for the year in question

“Additional funding for the community and voluntary sector could also be made available if the government introduced a VAT refund scheme for charities and created a €50 million fund drawn annually from the Dormant Accounts Fund and monies seized by CAB.

“The government should also extend the CE scheme by increasing the number of CE places available, including those involved in Special CE.

“The development of the community sector also has an all-Ireland dimension. Sinn Féin is committed to securing the establishment of the All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum promised by the Good Friday Agreement.

“This would involve the building of a country-wide system, where communities would learn from best practice and where information and ideas could be shared.

“The Government has commenced a social dialogue with Trade Unions and employers’ organisations – it should also open up a dialogue and consultation process with the community sector.

“Sinn Féin believes Government must move towards the greatest possible participation of communities in decision making and calls on Government to recognise the invaluable contribution the community sector is making and will continue to make.” ENDS

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