Cavan County Councillor, John Paul Feeley has expressed his dismay at
the decision to abolish County Enterprise Boards.
‘We are living through a period of huge economic instability. This
decision, a political fudge worked out between Minister Hogan and
Minster Bruton adds further to that instability jeopardising as it
does one of the most effective supports provided to small local
Councillor Feeley, who himself is a member of the Cavan County
Enterprise Board noted that Board Members who are drawn from the local
authority, representatives of the Trade Union movement, employer
organisations, other state agencies and local business all gave of
their time on an entirely voluntary basis.
‘I can speak from first hand experience in County Cavan where the
small number of staff involved, under the leadership of CEO, Vincent
Reynolds play a huge role in supporting indigenous enterprise,
providing workspace throughout the County, providing mentoring and
training and working closely with other statutory agencies. The Cavan
CEB always thought outside the box to leverage funding to the County,
that capacity may now be lost.’
Referring to the attacks on the competence and professionalism of CEB
staff around the country, the Fianna Fáil Councillor noted that there
was a campaign to undermine the good work and efficiency of the staff
which was entirely unfair and used as a basis for this decision.
‘The skills and commitment of the staff in County Cavan are second to
none, that may not be replicated throughout the country but the
failing of a small few are hardly reason to blacken the work of the
great majority. In Cavan we have amongst the most efficient
administrations. The Controller an Auditor Generals Report last year
demonstrated that our administration cost per job supported was one of
the lowest in Ireland.’
‘This Fine Gael/Labour Government set themselves the task of
abolishing ‘quangos.’ That agenda was expedient in Opposition but it
undermines excellent work being done by Boards such as that in County
Cavan and will not achieve any savings for the taxpayer but make it
more difficult to create and sustain jobs.’
Noting the close working relationship between the CEB and Cavan County
Council, Councillor Feeley pointed out that they already shared
payroll and IT functions to save money for the taxpayer.
‘If Government had a real interest in reform then the Cavan model
could and should have been used. The Government are interested in a
fudge, not real reform and that is all we get from these changes.’
The final area of major concern is that the plans envisage the local
authority providing matching funding to any funds allocated by Central
Government to the new Enterprise Office.
‘To date the Enterprise Boards were funded entirely from Government.
The new proposals require County Councils to provide matching funding.
Our Council is already hard pressed function given the demands on
services and the dwindling resources. Cavan County Council cannot
drawdown grants already made from Central Government under other
headings. This measure is simply stealth cutting money spent on job
creation and enterprise.’
Concluding Councillor Feeley stated the changes announced ‘undermine
the staff of the CEB’s, undermine the confidence of local business and
undermine funding for job creation.’