Western Development Commission ‘oppressed, hamstrung and hampered by the government’ – Tóibín
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Regional Development Peadar Tóibín has said that the Western Development Commission, which was established in 1998 to promote economic and social development on the Western Seaboard, has suffered greatly as a result of government disinterest.
Former Chairperson, Paddy McGuinness, who lately did not seek re-appointment to the Board has highlighted the myriad ways in which lack of engagement by government departments, lack of political will, and stifling ‘top-down’ administration issues among others hampered the good work of the Commission.
Speaking at the meeting of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Oireachtas Committee, the Cathaoirleach Peadar Tóibín said:
“The Western Development Commission has been doing great work - so much so that we were considering its replication in other regions suffering from economic deprivation. Paddy McGuinness and his team have done their very best in meeting the needs of the people of the Western Seaboard.
“Today, we have Paddy McGuinness for Chairman of the Western Development Commission evidence as to his tenure in the chair and the reason that he decided not to allow his name go forward for the position again.
“We learned from him that the Western Development Commission has had its budgets slashed and its staffing levels have been decimated. Considerable funding that had been assigned has been located in a capital fund, despite the organisation not having a capital need. In practical terms this means that funding cannot be spent by the organisation.
“The position of CEO at the Western Development Commission has been vacant for a total of five years to the present. No board has been in place at the WDC from February 2017 to the present. This means that other funding streams cannot be activated. This means that there are community organisations and small enterprises who are waiting from this funding limbo to be lifted.
“It is startlingly clear that the department and the ministers in charge of the Western Development Commission do not have the political will to actively support this organisation which has delivered so much for the community. This is yet further evidence of the scandal of the invisible West and the utter lack of balanced regional development.”