Activists from SIPTU’s “Communities First “campaign commenced the first in a nationwide series of meetings with public representatives in Co Leitrim on 11th March last to highlight the threat to Local Development Companies (LDC’s) posed by government plans to cut, outsource and close key parts of the community sector through an “alignment” process with local authorities.
Government back bench TD Tony McLoughlin (FG), Sinn Fein TD Michael Colreavy, Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan and Fianna Fail Senator Paschal Mooney were all in attendance along with a number of local councillors to meet with board members and staff from the Leitrim Local Development Company (LDC) in the Mayflower Community Centre in Drumshanbo.
SIPTU Official Noreen Parker explained the threat to jobs and services posed by the Coalition’s plans to “align” services of LDC’s under the remit of local authorities. Job losses, the contracting out of services, and the loss of vital funding streams from the EU were all likely outcomes if government plans are not altered. She called on elected representatives to support the workers’ demands to maintain existing structures and the independent status of the LDC network. Local councillors have already given support to this issue passing a motion that Leitrim LDC should not be “aligned”with Leitrim County Council.
Donal Fox, Co-ordinator of Services to the Unemployed for Leitrim LDC and SIPTU shop steward, outlined the wide range of services provided by the Company and the crucial role it plays in the local economy with over 200 employed through Rural Social Schemes, TUS, Job Initiative and Community Employment Programmes.
Bernie Donoghue, who also works as a Co-ordinator with the Leitrim LDC stressed how the current independent structure has ensured that the company is accessible to the needs of the community.
Michael Colreavy TD spoke for many when he expressed fears as to where the current funding would end up once it is transferred from the local development company to the local authority as envisaged in the government document Putting People First.
The meeting had a positive outcome in that all four Oireachtas members present agreed to write a joint letter expressing their concern at Minister Hogan’s proposals and to revert back through SIPTU with regard to their progress on this issue.