Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate and Longford Councillor, Joe Flaherty, has expressed concern amid fears for the future viability of the Granard Area Action Group Community Employment Scheme.

The Scheme has over thirty participants and undertakes invaluable community projects across three parishes. Funding for it and other such schemes have been incrementally reduced over recent years and Cllr Flaherty has warned that it is another example indifference to rural Ireland.

He explained, “In recent years the ‘Tools and Materials Budget’ has been cut from €20 to €12 per participant. In addition, the scheme’s monthly funding has been cut from €2,560 to €1,536. As a result, the group are scrambling to save costs and to their credit have secured savings on all cost lines including their rent.

“The shortfall however, is placing an unnecessary and unreasonable burden on the group and they find themselves having to fundraise in the order of €6,000 per annum to keep the scheme going.

“As I understand, the group’s recent AGM heard warnings about the precarious financial situation and there is now a real concern that the current financial structure is unsustainable going forward, clearly the future of the scheme is at risk.

“The group have called for a public meeting, later this month on June 20th, to highlight the situation and in advance of the meeting I am calling on the Department to resolve their funding woes.

“The savings are really non-existent in the grand scheme of things, but it further underlines the indifference that there is to community groups and voluntary organisations. It is increasingly hard to live in rural Ireland and stealth moves such as these simply underline the fact”, he concluded.