Aontu rep in County Louth, Michael O'Dowd.
Aontu representative Michael O'Dowd has criticised Louth County Council’s decision to use funds allocated from the 'Community Recognition Fund' for infrastructural projects instead of assisting community groups involved in the integration of refugees which was the intended purpose of the scheme.
“In my view, this is a huge mistake and ignores the many sports and community groups that are actively working with refugees” O’Dowd said.
“The fund was specifically earmarked to provide much-needed resources, support, and recognition to those who have worked to foster social cohesion and provide assistance to refugees in their local areas.
“While most councils across the country introduced a competitive application process, providing an equal opportunity for community groups to access the funds, County Louth's decision to use the funds towards infrastructural projects bypasses the essence and spirit of the grant scheme.
Advertisement - continue reading below
“By excluding community groups from the process, County Louth has effectively commandeered the funds, depriving those organisations that have been at the forefront of supporting refugees and promoting inclusive communities.
“In other counties sports clubs, scout groups, national schools, girl guides, church groups etc., were successful. People and organisations on the ground helping with integration. From €2,000 up to €200,000 money was distributed to encourage and reward community efforts. Not so in Louth.
“As an example, the €255,000 allocated for a footpath in Seapoint could have been divided between that project and also giving support to, for instance, St. Fechins, Walshestown FC, Dreadnoughts, Albion Rovers or a host of other local organisations that are supporting the new arrivals into their community.
“The economic aspect of these funds also needs to be taken into account, with all of the approved projects requiring to go through public procurement process there will be very little spent in the county. This would not happen if the funds were spread around among the community.”