Aligning or Dismantling? Ireland’s Local Development Structure Is Under Threat

Local Development Companies’ Reaction to “Putting People First” Proposed Reform


The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) today spoke out on the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government’s reform document, ‘Putting People First’. ILDN, which represents local development companies in Ireland, was openly critical of the Department’s plans to demote Ireland’s highly effective local development model and called on Minister Hogan to meet with them to address their concerns.


“The EU Commission acknowledges that the Irish development company model is one of the best in Europe. Irish Local Development Companies are effective in channelling an average of €150 – 200 million in funding each year from a range of funding programmes directly into actions needed by communities – creating jobs, supporting enterprise and tackling poverty and social exclusion. It makes no senses to threaten to demote and demolish these proven local and community led structures which have over twenty years experience delivering real outcomes”, stated Ryan Howard, ILDN spokesperson.


While much of the initial reaction to Minister Phil Hogan’s local government reform document ‘Putting People First’ centred on proposals to abolish town councils, the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) believes that the proposed reform will not deliver improved outcomes for local communities as it endangers the bottom-up economic, social and community development model currently delivered by 51 local development companies throughout Ireland.


“We certainly agree that the local authority should be involved in improving the coordination and planning of local development and we welcome certain aspects of Putting People First which suggest this. However, we need to be careful not to damage structures that have a long established connection with communities and that have been highly effective in drawing down and distributing EU and national funding”, Mr Howard added.


When it comes to delivering jobs and enterprise development, the figures speak for themselves. In a 2011 ILDN survey, 42 local development companies reported having:

  • Supported 8,741 people into employment
  • Supported 26,656 people into education or training
  • Supported 5,048 into labour market programmes
  • Supported 5,042 people into self-employment


Additionally, Local Development Companies are assisting thousands of community initiatives every year.


Today, ILDN are asking what justifies removing a proven, effective and respected set of local structures and are calling on Minister Hogan and his Department to ensure that twenty years good practice, experience and results are valued and protected rather than duplicated and displaced by unproven models of local development.




  • ILDN is the representative network for 51 Local Development Companies in Ireland. Its role is to promote and support the work of its members.


  • Local Development Companies are known by many different names throughout Ireland including Local Area Partnerships, LEADER Partnerships, Integrated Development Companies as well as the more obvious Local Development Company. But whether a local development company is known as Northside Partnership, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership or Clare Local Development Company there are a number of key features which all LDCs share:


a)    Bottom-up approach – working with communities to develop local solutions to local issues

b)    Focus on promoting local economic development

c)    Focus on addressing inequality and social exclusion

d)    Governed by a voluntary multi-sectoral partnership structure. A typical Local Development Company Board will comprise:

–          35% community / voluntary representatives

–          26% statutory representatives

–          22% social partner representatives

–          17% local authority representatives



What Type of Work Does an LDC Do?


The range of services and supports provided by one organisation in an integrated manner, in an accessible community setting is what makes the work of local development companies unique and difficult to replicate or replace:


Employment – for example – training and other supports to assist the long-term unemployed in finding employment, operating Local Employment Services, Job Clubs and Local Training Initiatives on behalf of the Department of Social Protection, operating work placement schemes such as Tús / Community Employment.


Enterprise – for example – one-to-one supports and training to assist entrepreneurs in establishing their own business or in further developing an existing business. In rural areas, this will include the provision of grant support through the LEADER programme.


Education and Lifelong Learning – for example – training for adults in a range of areas from IT to literacy or personal development, supports for early school leavers and supports to encourage children from disadvantaged areas to stay in education.


Community Development – supporting community groups to have a strong voice on what happens in their local area and to develop their own community initiatives. Through the LEADER programme, LDCs in rural areas can offer funding for village renewal, tourism and other basic services projects led by the community.


Supporting Families Children and Young People – for example – delivering parenting programmes, early years outreach programmes, training for childcare providers, running youth clubs, literacy programmes to encourage young people to stay in school.


Social Inclusion – for example – initiatives to support marginalised or disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, women’s projects or projects to support isolated men such as the organisation of Men’s Sheds.


Rural Development & Tourism – for example – operating a range of programmes specifically aimed at improving the quality of life in rural Ireland and diversifying the rural economy. Initiatives range from the supports described above for enterprise and developing community facilities to tourism projects such as improving walking trails and projects to protect the rural environment.

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