REMOVING Leader funding from the hands of IRD Duhallow and placing it with Cork County Council will result in job losses and a halt in rural development.
That was the firm warning by Duhallow community groups who let Fine Gael representatives know exactly how they felt about Minister Phil Hogan's proposal to move the Leader funding 20142020 into the arms of CCC at a "lively and noisy public meeting" at the Glen Theatre in Banteer on Monday night.
Fine Gael representatives certainly got a wrap on the knuckles from the floor with a demand from community groups that Minister Hogan clarify in writing that IRD Duhallow will continue to administer the Leader funding.
However, Deputy Aine Collins (FG), Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) and Cllr Noel Buckely (FG) insisted that, as far as they were aware, and understood from Minister Hogan, that IRD Duhallow would most certainly retain its present status and control of the Leader funding.
The FG representatives questioned the interpretation taken by local communities and the IRD Duhallow board.
Denis Withers of Banteer Community Council said that IRD Duhallow has administered funding in the region for 23 years and granted funding based on community needs and justification.
"IRD Duhallow's model has been held up in the EU of how funds should be administered. We want to maintain jobs in Duhallow and not lose them. So, really why change something that is working. If it isn't broken there is no need to fix it," Mr Withers told The Corkman.
He said without the Trojan work of IRD Duhallow in the region a deluge of projects which have been successfully completed would not have come to fruition without the staff at the James O'Keeffe Institute in Newmarket.
"We want to keep jobs and projects going in the Duhallow region and not have either cut back," he said.
In a letter written to Mr Withers by Minister Phil Hogan last February, and seen by The Corkman, the minister acknowledged the strong track record of IRD Duhallow. He wrote that he was 'committed to ' retaining the ethos and ' bottom-up' approach which underpins the work of [IRD Duhallow]'. He also wrote that he has no intention of replacing local development companies or integrating them with local authorities.
'But I am exploring options for streamlining structures at local level. I am also keen to see local government taking a a greater lead in giving coherent and strategic direction in the delivery of community and local development interventions at a local level," he wrote.
But, as was published just last week, the Government has plans to scrap the county and city enterprise boards and incorporate their functions into local authorities. The planned move would see Cork County Council take over the functions of all the county's enterprise boards, and the setting up of a network of local enterprise offices.
Integrating the local development boards into this new, proposed network would further 'streamline' economic development across the county.