More councils need dedicated teams to access EU resources - Kearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has welcomed the large attendance at the South Antrim EU Funding Seminar in the Dunsilly Hotel this week.
Speaking at the close of the event Mr Kearney, expressed his thanks to the panel members for their contributions, and appreciation to the wide range of small business and community organisations represented in the audience.
“I want to thank the panel members for taking time out from their busy schedules to participate in this seminar. They brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the event.
“I also wish to acknowledge the attendance of those local business, community and sporting organisations who fully engaged with the panel throughout the seminar and hopefully will have gained a useful insight into the range of funding opportunities available.
“The aim of the event was to empower the local business and community sectors by helping to de-mystify the EU funding path and break down the complexities around appropriate funding streams and relevant application processes.
“Martina Anderson MEP highlighted the low levels of engagement with Europe in the North compared to other regions. She appealed to the audience to maximise the possibilities which Europe presented and make full use of the available funding streams, particularly those in the Competitive Funds category."
Pointing out the need to build capacity and vision regarding the opportunities presented by Europe, Mr Kearney said;
“Panel members highlighted the need to develop projects and programmes well in advance of application deadlines. Organisations need to invest time and effort in order to realise maximum benefit; however the panel was keen to reassure the audience that there many sources of help and guidance, not least through their MEPs.
“It is, however, a matter of concern that of the 11 councils in the North, only Derry and Strabane along with Belfast have dedicated EU Units assisting locally based organisations and businesses. I believe the remaining 9 councils, including Antrim and Newtownabbey, need to follow this example and enhance the existing local economic development expertise at local council level with dedicated European funding support.
“Judging by the attendance and the range of questions from the floor, there is a clear demand for such a service in South Antrim. In the meantime, Sinn Féin will continue to provide support to local businesses, community regeneration groups, cultural, sporting and grass roots organisations and assist them in building capacity to grow and develop their contribution to the local economy and community life across the constituency."