Castlebar's independent candidate in the local elections Donal Geraghty has come out strongly in support of the retention of the South West Mayo Development Company (SWMDC) which is under serious threat due to Government proposals.
The Government is proposing that a county council-led Local Community Development Company (LCDC) take over some of the functions of the independent, community-led local development companies such as SWMDC.
What this means is that the next LEADER contract will be awarded to an "unproven and untested" Mayo County Council and not the SWMDC which has been serving the people of its hinterland for 22 years.
"Mayo County Council will be responsible for the Local Community and Development Programme if this move gets the go ahead. But why would the government take this responsibility from a trustworthy Local Development Company like SWMDC at a time when we need transparency about how public money is being spent?" Geraghty asked.
If elected, the young hopeful has vowed to fight tooth and nail to ensure that the LEADER programme remains firmly in the control of the Local Development Companies and not local authorities like Mayo County Council who have no track record in administering these types of projects.
According to Geraghty there are no savings to be made from such a move and in fact there will be job losses as a result. He has pointed to a value for money reported carried out in 2013 which found no financial gain from absorbing local development functions into local authorities.
"The SWMDC is running a very tight ship with their administration costs at 17.4 per cent, that's 2.6 per cent less than the recommended 20 per cent. It is subject to strict company law and makes annual audited returns to the Company Registration Office," Geraghty explained.
Geraghty has listened to the concerns of the SWMDC who says that there will be job losses if this move is pushed through because the SWMDC cannot be sustained without LEADER and LCDP funding and is strongly supporting the retention of the status quo.