Community projects lose funds appeal

 

FOURTEEN COMMUNITY development projects that appealed a decision by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to stop their funding were told yesterday their appeals had been rejected.

Of the 24 projects that appealed a decision to cease their funding in December, 10 got a reprieve. The projects were among 180 examined by the department last year as part of a review of funding. Some 150 other projects will continue to be funded, but under a new Local and Community Development Programme, with altered conditions.

The projects given a reprieve included Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre and the Crumlin Community Development Project. Of the 14 appeals rejected, 13 were from groups in Dublin.

The Community Development Project Appeals Board report, released yesterday, said issues considered in the initial review included the “identification of potential for achieving improved efficiencies”.

“The appeals board was advised that particular emphasis was given to this and the value for money agenda during the review process,” the report said.

It also said all groups were given an oral hearing when they appealed the department’s decision to stop funding them.

“The appeals board is itself satisfied that each CDP [community development project] had the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies or incorrect assertions made in the review document during the appeals process and in particular at the oral hearings,” the report said. The Community Workers’ Co-operative, an umbrella body for community development groups, said there was an overwhelming consensus that the review process and the appeals procedure were flawed.

Ann Irwin, national co-ordinator of the group, said the time allotted to projects to file their appeals was inadequate and unreasonable. And the appeals board did not contain any independent person or anyone experienced in community development.

“There is a sense of anger and complete devastation among many of the projects,” she said.

She called for a fresh review and for reform to be planned in conjunction with stakeholders to ensure the most disadvantaged communities were the true beneficiaries.