CWI response to Our Communities: A Framework Policy for Local and Community Development in Ireland

CWI Response

CWI has requested a meeting with Minister Phelan regarding the publication this week of, Our Communities- A Framework Policy for Local and Community Development in Ireland.

We have highlighted a number of concerns related to the process leading up to publication and the content itself including;

  •  The Ministers statement that “meaningful engagement with communities, which goes beyond mere consultation, is the bedrock of policy” and the fact that the process for finalising the document appears to directly contradict such commitment to meaningful engagement with no feedback or discussion with community workers. Community groups or the sector as a whole.
  • The fact that despite receiving 73 submissions on the draft document only a small number of minor changes are in the published document and the fact that the issues raised in our submission and those of others are not reflected
  • Our continued concerns re some of the core elements of the document.
We are seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues further. We would really appreciate if you could email her ann.phelan@oireachtas.ie supporting our concerns and requesting that she meet with us as a matter of urgency.

Letter to the Minister

Ann Phelan TD

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Rural Economic Development

Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

Agriculture House

Kildare St.

Dublin 2.                                                                                                                                                                26/1/2016

Dear Minister,

I write to you as Chairperson of Community Work Ireland (CWI) in response to your recently published document, Our Communities: A Framework Policy for Local and Community Development in Ireland and to request a very urgent meeting to discuss this. You will recall that we had a useful and constructive meeting some time ago to discuss community development and issues affecting marginalised groups and communities.

We note and agree with your statement in the press release accompanying the publication of the document that “meaningful engagement with communities, which goes beyond mere consultation, is the bedrock of policy”.  We are however, deeply concerned that the process designed by your Department and engaged with in good faith, by ourselves and many of our members, now appears as far as we can see, to directly contradict such commitment to meaningful engagement.  We also remain concerned with certain core aspects of the content that have previously been commented on and indeed with the fact that the overall document itself remains substantially unchanged from the draft circulated prior to submissions.

Community Work Ireland (then the Community Workers’ Co-operative) made a detailed and lengthy submission on the draft Framework Policy document following two national consultation meetings organised by CWI and attended by a wide range of stakeholders, community groups and community development practitioners with in depth knowledge, experience and expertise in the field of community development from throughout the country.

It is therefore with great dismay that we note, despite indications to the contrary, the document has been published with no feedback or discussion with community development practitioners or the community sector as a whole.  We are aware that your Department received 73 submissions on the draft document and it is therefore extremely surprising to note that only a small number of minor changes are in the published document.

I look forward to hearing from you and will be in touch with your Department.  We appreciate that there are other pressing matters on your agenda, including the up-coming general election, but since this time has been chosen by yourselves to publish Our Communities: A Framework Policy for Local and Community Development in Ireland, we believe your direct engagement with our concerns, and mechanisms to address them, to be vital.

Yours sincerely,

Anastasia Crickley, Community Work Ireland, Chairperson