NEKD No Longer on the Hunted List

NEKD chairman, Bernard Collins welcomed today's news. ©Photograph: John Reidy
NEKD chairman, Bernard Collins welcomed today’s news. ©Photograph: John Reidy

They were harried and hunted to the point of extinction by Minister Phil Hogan’s ‘Putting People First’ reform document in the fall of 2012. The Hen Harrier had more protection in rural habitats than its human counterparts of the species known locally as the NEKD – or North & East Kerry Development. 

However, unlike its feathered comparison, the flock of the NEKD and its equals left their habitats and made themselves audible and visible and brought their fight right into the range of the hunter’s sights. 

The hulking hunter has now gone on to pastures new and easier pickings and the flocks of the rural development companies can look at re-buildings the nests they had all but abandoned. 

“There is good news for Kerry as the county begins to emerge from the crises of the past number of years and attempts to repair some of the damage inflicted upon communities by recession and the subsequent austerity. North and East Kerry Development (including West Kerry) have succeeded in a competitive tender process to become programme implementer of Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP),” according to a press release just in. 

SICAP is a local social inclusion programme focussed on the most marginalised people in our communities. It aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through local community development, by empowering communities and individuals to improve their quality of life.

“Families and communities in the region suffered significant social and economic deprivation during the recession. Unemployment had a huge impact in an area that was highly dependent on the building sector and resulted in a combination of large scale emigration in rural areas and unemployment of over 50% in a number of areas.

This was exacerbated by cuts in services during austerity which impacted disproportionately on the most disadvantaged. Thankfully, we seem to be emerging from the recession but the recovery in areas such as North and West Kerry will lag behind the large cities.

Also, there is an underlying inequality which needs to be tackled: participation rates in third level education for example vary from 63% in one area in Tralee to around 7% in another, and a recent CSO report shows that without welfare 50% of the population would be at risk of poverty. This programme will help us to provide much needed supports to communities and individuals who need it most” said Robert Carey, NEKD SICAP manager.

Chairperson, Bernard Collins welcomed the news today: 

“There have been a lot of changes from a national policy perspective in how local development is delivered and the granting of this programme to NEKD is welcome progress. We are delighted that local development has not been privatised and continues to be delivered by community-based not-for-profit companies. We look forward to delivering the programme and working with all our partners, many of whom are represented on our board.”