A public meeting in Clonmel last Friday night reacted angrily to planned changes that will impact the future of local development companies, such as South Tipperary Development Company.
A total of 23 stands were erected at the public meeting demonstrating an array of projects supported by South Tipperary Development Company. A list of 210 community groups that are supported by STDC were highlighted at the meeting.
The event in the Park Hotel was attended by over 250 people who voiced their support for the present operation of STDC.
Government proposals mean that commercial ‘for profit companies’ will be allowed to tender for some of the programmes operated by STDC. This may result in a privatisation of the operation of the main Social Inclusion Fund in this country, presently called the Local & Community Development Programme.
MEP Phil Prendergast, Mattie McGrath TD and IFA chairman Simon Lynch spoke in favour of the retention of the current local development model.
All final decisions for grants issued by South Tipperary Development Company will now transfer from the local development company to a new committee established under the auspicious of Tipperary County Council.
Company chairman Martin Quinn pointed out at the meeting that one of the biggest impacts of the change is that the community and voluntary representatives role in the decision making process for such funds will be drastically reduced from 16 to 5.
STDC operate the Tús Programme, the Rural Social Scheme, the National Countryside Recreation Strategy, a Travellers Health Programme, a Home Repairs Service, a playschool and a number of other schemes, including The Incredible Years Programme. Over the last 2 years STDC have also established the Micro Business Network and have provided invaluable support to the Tipperary Food Producers Network.
Mr Quinn encouraged the public to defend the current model of local and community development by making their views known to candidates in the upcoming local and European elections and by forwarding their opinions to the Minister.
The public meeting held by South Tipperary Development Company is just of a series of similar meetings being held by development companies throughout the country.