Those who attended the North and East Kerry Development support meeting on Tuesday night would be forgiven the perception that the sky would fall if the company folded. That there would be a pall of sadness and sorrow bordering on grief in the wake of its demise.
A procession of volunteers spoke with great passion of the work being done in their areas with financial assistance and man-power provided by the Castleisland based company.
Speakers, one ofter the other, condemned Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s soon to be enforced reforms which will see the distribution of development funds stripped from the remit of companies like NEKD throughout the country.
The meeting, at the River Island Hotel, was the third in the series of rallying calls in support of the retention of the company in the hope it would have a role in future grant
aid distribution to areas within its present constituency. In attendance with the estimated 100 others were: Fianna Fáil Cllr. John Joe Culloty and local election candidate, Brian McCarthy.
There was an elephant in the room. The dearth of information from board members on questions associated with breaking news over the past few days remains a cause for concern for the many committed volunteers. And those concerns are not going away anytime soon. It is likely they will resurface at tonight’s fourth and final meeting in Listowel at 8pm.
As a company struggling to survive and striving to have a say in the reformed local development set-up, the revelations couldn’t have come at a more inappropriate time.
For the sakes of all those who came out fighting for the honour and retention of the support systems for their parish halls, GAA fields and new clubrooms – one can only hope that this indeed is “All Bullshit” as NEKD board member, Pat Mitchell put it on Tuesday.
On the other hand: local Fine Gael Councillor, Bobby O’Connell said today that the new reforms will not mean the end of the volunteering structures already in place in the towns and villages throughout the county.
“In fact there will be a greater level of funding available and directly available to where it’s needed. The era of the middle-men is gone and so is the expense that went with it. In that case there will be more money available for the people and groups working in the hearts of their communities and that’s the idea behind these reforms,” said Cllr. O’Connell.