PRESS RELEASE – Minister of State visits County Kildare LEADER Partnership
“Minister of State visits County Kildare LEADER Partnership”
The Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Social Protection Joe O’Brien T.D visited County Kildare this week to view projects supported by County Kildare LEADER Partnership in Athy and Kildare Town.
Minister O’Brien is Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development with special responsibility for Community Development and Charities and at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with special responsibility for Integration.
In Athy Minister O’Brien met visited the Empowering Communities Programme managed by County Kildare LEADER Partnership (CKLP) and discussed progress to date of this new initiative with local residents. Since February 2023 a Community Outreach Worker has been engaged in carrying out door to door consultations with residents in five local estates. From this process it is hoped that local resident groups will be formed or reformed to give the residents a voice in the development of their community. To date the response has been very encouraging with high levels of participation in the consultation process.
The Minister also visited the DARA Project in Athy which is a drug rehabilitation programme funded by the Department of Social Protection as a Community Employment Scheme and met the Project Coordinator Alan Gavagan and staff and participants.
The Minister travelled to Kildare Town to the new CKLP premises at the former Presentation Convent and met with staff and Board members. CKLP has developed a Community Development Centre in the premises with the assistance of funding under the Rural Development / LEADER Programme.
In Kildare Town Minister O’Brien met with representatives of Kildare Public Participation Network (PPN) and Kildare Volunteer Centre before meeting staff and participants on a number of programmes run at the centre by CKLP. These included the HEADSUP Women’s programme, the Enterprise Skills Programme CE Scheme, TUS, the Rural Social Scheme, Sláintecare and the Kildare Small Jobs Service.
HEADS UP is a twelve-week mental health education and training programme for men and women who are finding life stressful, and who have issues with unemployment, to build their mental fitness, boost their confidence and take action to get their lives back on track. This group programme aims to encourage participants to make positive changes to their lives, develop resilience and offers support to access local services and supports.
The Minister met participants on the Enterprise Skills Programme as they completed their fourteen weeks start your own business course. The participants on this course are planning to move from unemployment to become self-employed. With the assistance of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) the participants are supported to avail of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme from the Department of Social Protection while they are establishing their business.
As Minister of State with special responsibility for integration the Minister was particularly interested in meeting with asylum seekers and refugees who have been supported by the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). International Protection Applicants living in Newbridge met with the Minister along with Ukrainian refugees who have been living in Ireland over the last twelve months.
“I’m delighted to visit Co. Kildare this morning to see first-hand some of the important work being carried out by our community & voluntary groups.” Stated Minister O’Brien.
Minister O’Brien added that “the work carried out by these groups is vital to helping our local communities be vibrant and inclusive places where support, opportunity and friendship is offered to those who need it. The people I have met across all the projects this morning really embody the best of what we mean when we speak of Ireland’s community spirit. It is great to see it so alive and well in Co. Kildare.”
CEO of County Kildare LEADER Partnership Pat Leogue thanked Minister O’Brien for visiting Kildare, “We hope that the interaction with the people we work with has given the Minister a good sense of the work that is ongoing in the county with limited resources”.
It is widely acknowledged that the perception of County Kildare as an affluent area is wide of the mark with a rapidly increasing population and calls for greater investment in many areas including addiction services, mental health, and transport.
“I would like to acknowledge the additional resources that the Minister has committed to social inclusion and integration and also emphasise that we would not be able to achieve what we do without the support and cooperation of a wide range of agencies and local service providers” added Mr Leogue.
For further information please contact Pat Leogue, CEO County Kildare LEADER Partnership at 086 8149623.