Donegal County Council are seeking more time to discuss the implications of the coming council oversight of county development companies.
Councillors were asked at today’s meeting of Donegal County Council to establish a Local and Community Development Committee, as part of the government’s alignment process for local authorities across the country. Under the plan, county and city development boards are being dissolved and local authorities are being requested to lead on the establishment and management of the new LCDC, which will take on many of the coordination roles held by the county development boards.
The new LCDC will also have responsibility for developing an overarching development strategy for the county in the form of a Local Economic and Community Plan.
Councillors agreed to discuss the issue further at 5pm today.
Michael Heaney, council director of service for community, culture and planning, said that from July 1st, Donegal LCDC will be responsible for the last six months of the local community development programme, so the council needed a functioning local committee in place to take on that responsibility. The deadlines were imposed on council by the government, Mr. Heaney said.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Mick Quinn said he believed the planned realignment was “the most classic example of fixing something that isn’t broken”.
“We have to ask ourselves, are we doing the right thing at all?” Cllr. Quinn asked.
Fine Gael Cllr. Bernard McGuinness said he agreed with the executive that the committee needed to be established. He said he thought it was much better that funding come through the local authority and said the message needed to go out, “that existing companies that are there will continue to be there”. “It’s not fair nor is it correct nor is it honest to be putting out that message that seems to be coming out that people will lose their jobs,” Cllr. McGuinness said.
He said the local authority had been looking for more involvement in development for years, and this realignment would do that.
“Really, the problem here is that there is absolutely no clarity,” Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher said. She said Cllr. McGuinness appeared to be privy to more information than she had received.
“I’ve continuously asked and have a question down today on how the changes are going to affect Donegal County Council, because I personally don’t know,” she said. Cllr. Gallagher said legislation was being enacted in Dublin without proper consultation with local authorities and community groups.
“It does lead to fear, it does lead to lack of clarity, and that’s the problem here,” she said.