Independent TD Mattie McGrath has heavily criticised the decision by Pobal, the Government agency which acts as an intermediary for programmes funded by the Irish Government and the EU, to deny emergency funding aimed at maintaining the existence of Muintir na Tíre. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Muintir na Tíre received confirmation that its request for €15,000 was refused on the basis that all budget allocations under the Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community & Voluntary Sector ((SSNO) did not include provision for the kind of interim funding which it had requested:
“Ever since Canon Hayes founded the organisation in 1937, Muintir na Tíre has significantly enhanced the capacities of people in communities, rural and urban, to become involved in local social, economic, cultural and environmental development.
The fact that the organisation had to go cap in hand to receive support from Pobal was bad enough in the sense that there was allegedly great recognition at Government level of the work it carries out on a daily basis. However, to have the request for emergency funding denied is simply breath taking and points to what is now a definite trend in terms of pointedly removing supports from community based bottom up approaches to development.
We saw this last week with the protest over the decimation of the LEADER projects and now we have this bombshell landed on us. To read then that according to an unpublished report there is concern over millions of euro paid out to Pobal to monitor the compliance of childcare providers is deeply worrying. Indeed the fact that internal auditors at the Department of Children are finding it next to impossible to justify Pobal’s annual fee of €2.5m raises extremely serious questions around how such costs were initially calculated by Pobal given that it appeared that Pobal were paid more than €250,000 per each inspection officer.
This staggering amount of money stands in sharp contrast to the €15,000 Muintir na Tíre were seeking to keep the show on the road.
I have already called for an emergency debate on this issue in the Dáil so that the value for money, as well as the enormous social and community benefits that Munitir na Tíre provides can be highlighted and supported,” concluded Deputy McGrath.