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Hundreds gathered  on Thursday, 19 May for the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership(KLP) Public Meeting held in  Hotel Kilkenny.   The meeting was held to  address and inform of the proposed changes to the LEADER programme.

The meeting was attended by a large number of local residents, community members throughout Kilkenny, stakeholders, as well as Councillors, and participants of the Tus and Rural Social Scheme.  John Lonergan, (the former Governor of Mountjoy Prison) attended as an independent chairperson for the meeting.

The meeting began with 4 speakers from the floor as they told the crowd their successes with KLP.  Patrick Lydon from Camphill  told of the positive impacts LEADER has had on Callan and surrounding rural areas. Adrian ‘Razor’Kavanagh, who set up a youth theatre in Graiguenamanagh with KLP support, praised the one to one mentoring they received.  “We wouldn’t have done this without the help from KLP.  The youths in Graiguenamanagh would never have done this on their own”  Peggy Lahart, who is a participant from the Rural Social Scheme told of the  Crosspatrick Commnuity shop in  which she has played a huge role.  “In 2010, the only shop in Crosspatrick closed and the locals had no choice but to travel further to do their shopping.  No one stopped in the village anymore.   The community came together to establish a shop  run completely by volunteers. ” With Peggy’s skills in finance and Rural Social Scheme support the shop is successful and provides a welcome to all.   Bob Walshe, from the Rower has set up a riding school with funding of KLP and told of the support they received and expressed his appreciation to the KLP development workers.

KLP chairperson, Denis Drennan and KLP CEO, Declan Rice gave brief presentations explaining the structure of KLP and how the new proposed Government legislation may affect the company and county.   Declan explained “KLP has a very good relationship with the County Council.  There is still room to make changes to the laws coming in.”   This was followed by a question and answer session and a passionate but civilised debate on the role of local authorities and community-led organisations such as KLP in local development.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a resolution was overwhelmingly supported from the floor for forwarding to Kilkenny County Council and the LCDC.

It reads:  ‘That the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in County Kilkenny will adopt a role of planning, oversight, co-ordination and monitoring role for local development, and would not adopt an implementation role in the management, administration and delivery of the LEADER and Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) programmes.’

KLP would like to thank everyone who came out that night.  Any updates or followup will be posted on the KLP website.