Bosses of LDCs to stage demo over plans by Hogan
THE bosses of some of the country's local-development companies (LDCs) are on a collision course with Environment Minister Phil Hogan over plans to align their organisations with local authorities.
In a highly unusual move, the top brass of the companies are planning to stage a protest outside the Dail next month in order to demonstrate their intentions to "fight for rural Ireland".
The bosses of a number of these bodies, known also as LEADER companies, are opposed to Mr Hogan's plans to give local authorities greater oversight of how the companies dispense public funds.
But the proposals for a demonstration have raised eyebrows within government circles and is believed to represent the first national protest by the bosses of the non-for-profit firms, which receive €50m in state funding each year.
The news of the planned march comes as Environment Minister Phil Hogan reviews the operation of the companies.
The Irish Independent revealed last month that, in some cases, up to a third of the firms' public funding is being spent on salaries and administration.
This has prompted Mr Hogan to review the workings of the organisations.
Particular concern has already been raised within government circles about the size of some of the CEO salaries involved. Eleven CEOs of the LEADER companies are earning in excess of €92,000, the salary of an average TD.
The alignment process that has been instigated by Mr Hogan has prompted plans for a public demonstration, according documents seen by the Irish Independent.
In a letter signed by the CEO of the Meath Partnership company, Michael Ludlow, it is stated that LEADER companies must "retain and strengthen our resolve in the aftermath of the local elections and publicly demonstrate our intention to fight for rural Ireland." The letter proposes that the public demonstration will be held outside the Dail next month.
The CEO of Meath Partnership said that the public demonstration was called for by "our colleagues in the Southern Region".
When contacted by the Irish Independent, Mr Ludlow said that an organising committee had now been put in place to organise the event and that he was now not directly involved in its organisation.