Concern that community jobs and services in Limerick regeneration areas could be put at risk

Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan.

THE SOCIAL Intervention Fund, which provides money for the operations of many community-based organisations in Limerick, is to be extended for another year.

But a Limerick senator says that he is very concerned that the funding is contingent on a strategy to be developed by Limerick City and County Council which, six weeks before the funding ends, has not yet been received by the department.

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said delays put terrible pressure on community organisations, some of whom were advised that they “should put their staff on notice that they may not have a job next year”.

The areas that would be impacted by the loss of this funding include the regeneration areas of Ballinacurra Weston, Moyross, Southill, and St Mary’s Park.

Projects affected, according to Senator Gavan, include the Bedford Row Family Project, Limerick Youth Service, and Limerick Island Community Partners serving the King’s Island area.

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Senator Gavan says he has received confirmation from the Department for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage that the Economic and Social Intervention Fund will be extended for 2024.

Following a Seanad debate, Senator Gavan said: “The announcement that the ESIF funding will be continued into 2024 is very welcome but what I cannot understand is why this has not been made clear to any of the groups who are depending on this funding.”

“Speaking to one of the local groups last week, I was informed that the Council has advised that the management of one centre that they should put staff on notice that they may not have a job next year”.

“I also cannot understand why contingency plans for funding were not put in place long before the end date, which was set 10 years ago – they have had 10 years to prepare for this scenario.

“The Economic and Social Intervention Fund for Limerick City was set up under the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan. This plan set out a programme of physical, social, and economic interventions over a 10-year period and is now due to end on the 31st December 2023.

“The ESIF has financially supported 180 social, economic, and community development projects across Limerick. These services are the foundation of the communities they support. Their work is far too important and Limerick can’t afford to lose any of these groups and community centres through lack of funding,” he said.