Community and voluntary organisation representatives from all parts of Ireland are due to converge on Dublin on Wednesday next (9th July) in protest against Minister Phil Hogan’s Alignment proposals around the RDP (LEADER) Programme.  The rally, planned for Kildare Street at 1.30pm is to highlight the concerns of communities throughout the country around the changes to the programme which they see as stripping LEADER away from the Local Area Groups (LAGs) and putting it in under newly established LCDC’s in each local authority area.

SKPD Community Board member and Chairperson Sheila Casey said that “the protection of the EU’s most successful LEADER delivery structure remains a most urgent priority otherwise the LEADER ethos and its bottom up developmental methodology will be lost to Ireland”. “If we allow this to happen, the more than 20 years of experience, skills, expertise & local relationships built up by South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd and similar companies will be lost with all the negative implications for rural Ireland” she said. Calling on all communities to send along representatives to the protest Sheila added that “now, more than ever, we need your support, so that communities – and not Local Authority Committees – can continue to decide how LEADER funding should be administered in this area.

The protest will be addressed by MEP’s Marian Harkin and Liadh Ní Riada amongst others and SKDP is planning to organise a bus to enable community & voluntary organisation representatives attend the protest.

Those interest in travelling are asked to contact SKDP reception in Cahersiveen on 066 9472724 before 5pm on Monday.

“Negotiations on the future of the LEADER Programme and the role of Local Development Companies has reached a critical point, now more than ever we need to demonstrate our resolve, to demonstrate unity of purpose, to publically support our communities and each other in order to achieve the best possible outcome from the Alignment Process” Sheila concluded.

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