Launch of the Meath Local Economic Community Plan for Meath

Meath, Speeches

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Speech by Minister Damien English T.D. at the Launch of the Meath Local Economic Community Plan for Meath

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Welcome: –

  • TDs,
  • Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, Maria Murphy
  • Councillors
  • Chief Executive Meath County Council, Jackie Maguire
  • Chair of the Meath LCDC, Sinead Smith

 

Part I – Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here tonight for the launch of the Meath Local Economic and Community Plan. And also to acknowledge the achievements of those who have worked tirelessly to bring these important plans to this stage.

 

  • The 2014 Local Government Reform Act provided local authorities with the legislation in relation to the establishment and operation of Local Community and Development Committees (LCDC).
  • One of the primary functions of the LCDC is to develop, implement and monitor a six year Local Economic and Community plan for the county.
  • Nationally there are 31 plans, all prepared by the LCDC in each county and adopted by each county council. Such is their importance I was delighted to take part in their National Launch a few months ago which was an opportunity to recognise all the hard work involved.
  • At the very heart of these plans is the desire to improve community well-being and quality of life.
  • Each plan sets out objectives and actions in the areas of:

 

  • economic development,
  • social inclusion and community development
  • health and wellbeing,
  • rural and urban regeneration,
  • investment and infrastructure needed to promote and support the local community development of their county over the six years.

 

  • Economic development and community development while separate functions, are mutually supportive in creating strong communities and local economies.

 

  • Those of us involved in this area – whether as volunteers, officials or elected representatives – will be acutely aware of the myriad of reports over the past 20 years that have called for a more joined-up approach to local service delivery.

 

  • Those working at a more local level in our communities, and indeed communities themselves, have experienced first-hand the need for Government and local agencies to better coordinate their efforts and resources.

 

  • Whichever side you’ve been on, one thing is agreed, there is plenty of room for improvement.

 

  • Now, for the first time, we have a planning framework and structures in place to make this happen.

 

  • These Local Economic and Community Plans are the ideal mechanism through which this much needed coordination, collaboration and integration can happen.

 

  • At the same time, the establishment LCDC provides a forum for meaningful engagement, coordination and dialogue.

 

 

  • So, supported by an expanded local authority economic role, a space has been created for central government, local government and communities to:

 

  • talk to each other;
  • to identify important local economic and social priorities;
  • to develop locally agreed solutions for these;

 

  • Ultimately, to ensure that it is all delivered in the most effective way possible.   That is, delivered in a way that has the biggest positive impact on people’s lives.

 

Part II – The Plan

  • This Plan establishes a blueprint for the development of our county, co Meath. It represents a better and more joined-up way of delivering local services. It brings people together in partnership to consider, decide on and do what is best for our communities. And most importantly, it is based on what our communities (you yourselves) consider to be your priorities and involves you in the development of policies that affect our lives.
  • Although the Plan is very much focused on Meath, it is a piece of a much bigger jigsaw. Yes, it is part of a network of Plans that seek to foster and bring about a much needed integration of local service delivery.

 

  • The plan has its place in the development of the broader region and the implementation of national policies.

 

  • A number of organisations locally will assist with the delivery of these actions. These include public bodies, state agencies and a wide range of local community and voluntary groups.

 

  • Through the Public Participation Networks (PPN) the LCDC provide a mechanism by which the community and voluntary sector can meaningfully participate in local development and in the delivery of actions set out in the plan.

 

 

  • This plan will also enable the targeting of funding under the management of LCDC partners and other publicly funded agencies.

 

Part III – The Delivery

 

  • The delivery of the Local Economic and Community Plans nationally is vital.

 

  • The strength and composition of the LCDC plays a major role in the delivery of these actions.

 

  • It is the combination of the County Council, agencies, voluntary sector and community groups that are central and best positioned to mobilise relevant groups to deliver the Plan.

 

  • It is important that public bodies cooperate with the Meath LCDC as this greatly strengthens the potential to deliver agreed actions in the plan that are ultimately designed to improve the economic, social and cultural aspect of our local areas.

 

  • Here in Meath, the LECP was developed jointly by the LCDC and the Council’s Economic SPC.

 

  • The preparation involved numerous consultations and workshops with statutory bodies, voluntary agencies, community and voluntary groups, the secretariat of the newly formed PPN and Comhairle na Nóg – the young people’s council – were consulted.

 

  • Reading through this plan, and the other county plans which I have read, you can see that they are unique to each area.

 

  • They reflect the specific priorities of those areas and, to a smaller extent, the different regions.   That said, there are also broadly similar themes consistent to them all.

 

  • They deal with priorities that are important to all communities – be it:
    • Education or the environment
    • integration or youth services
    • health and well-being,
    • tourism and employment.
  • All 31 plans reflect an impressive breadth of ambition for their areas.
    • They are all underpinned by a shared vision.
    • They are all products of meaningful engagement and participation by all.
    • They all draw on wealth of assets in their communities

 

Part IV – Actions

 

  • Individually of course, they include some exciting and innovative actions.   Actions that show not only local coordination, but also people working together on a regional basis.
  • Or actions across all the plans to deliver on the Healthy Ireland strategy, they show a willingness and capacity to work jointly for the good of their local communities.

 

Some actions already achieved in the plan:

 

  • Number 1: A new Intreo office was opened in Navan by DSP for employment services and income supports with a range of personalised supports to jobseekers.

 

  • Number 2: The Council has commenced a process with DSP of transferring existing rent supplement recipients to the Housing Assistance Programme (HAP)

 

  • Number 3: The Council are working with Kells Local Heroes to support the ‘Bigger Picture’ initiative of public seminars to focus on how architecture and design, arts and culture, biodiversity and landscaping can improve a town – Greening of Kells

 

 

  • Number 4: The Meath Intercultural Network organised a one stop shop event with the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Various agencies had stands with information on social welfare, housing and voting rights

 

  • Number 5: The Navan Healthy Town initiative was rolled out in September for 8 weeks which proved very successful with more groups and the public getting involved in a Healthy Ireland.

 

  • Personally speaking, I enjoyed taking part in this. I gave up the biscuits and I focused on running. I completed the Dublin City Marathon in 4 hours and 26 minutes and I am already planning for next year’s race in under 4 hours.

 

  • And Number 6: Actions for “renew our communities” and information on communities — the newly formed Public Participation Network has now over 444 groups registered. It also has a website, newsletter and is currently working on a comprehensive litter and waste survey.

 

 

Part V – Conclusion

  • To conclude, this plan requires everybody to continue working together, from the agencies to your community or voluntary group, to deliver on these actions set out.
  • I wish you every success with the plan, and with completing and adding more actions to achieve along the way.

 

  • I want to thank everybody for coming this evening.
    • Barry Lynch, Director of Community and Chief Officer of LCDC and Community section of council.
    • The Agencies for all the information stands today.
    • The LCDC members attending.
    • The Speakers – Cathaoirleach Maria Murphy and Chair of Meath LCDC Sinead Smith
    • All the staff, officials, consultants involved in the preparations, seminars, workshops held in developing the plan.

Once again the progress already made speaks very strongly to the commitment and hard work of all involved. I thank you for this and I look forward to the full implementation over the next five years. Enjoy the rest of the evening.

Delegation from Cary, North Carolina, USA visits Meath County Council

Meath, Navan, Research and Innovation
Cary pic
Pictured left to right: Jack Smith, Mayor of Carey, North Carolina, USA, Cllr. Joe Fox, Chairman of Meath County Council’s Economic Development and Planning SPC, Minister Damien English and Kyle Greer, Head of Economic Development in Cary, North Carolina, USA.
Meath County Council hosted a delegation from its twin region of Cary, North Carolina, USA last week. Cary is an area very similar to Meath, lying on the outskirts of a larger population centre.  20 years ago, Cary adopted a new economic strategy and approach which reversed the flow of commuter traffic and saw sustainable jobs and investment come to Cary rather than its bigger neighbour.  This approach is similar to Meath’s new Economic Development Strategy 2015-2022, and the Meath and Cary public representatives discussed the potential for shared learning and cooperation at a meeting of the Economic Development and Planning SPC which is Chaired by Cllr. Joe Fox and which was also attended by local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English T.D.

Local food processors urged to apply for new Organic grant aid scheme

Farming, Food, Funding

I wish to welcome the opening of the new Grant Aid Scheme for the Development of the Organic off-farm Processing Sector, and urge Meath based processors, who have shown a great interest in innovation and expansion, to apply.

The new scheme, which is wholly exchequer-funded, runs for the lifetime of the Rural Development Programme and will support investments for off-farm projects. Processors can apply for grants of up to €500,000 for investment in facilities for the processing, preparation, grading, packing and storage of organic products with minimum level of investment in excess of €3,000. €5m has been earmarked for the new scheme over its lifetime.

This Government is committed to developing the organic sector as an opportunity for the Irish agri-food sector in general and this Scheme is a further initiative to help existing organic processors meet the growing demand for organic food, both in Ireland and abroad.

Furthermore I am aware that many Meath companies have already made strides in this area, and will wish to continue to do so. Many Meath food companies have shown a flair for innovation in their enterprises, which as well as leading to new, local and sustainable jobs has resulted in Meath Enterprise, Meath County Council and industry partners seeking to make the County a Food Innovation and Research Hub of national and indeed international standing. I fully support these stakeholders in their efforts to create the Boyne Valley Food Hub.

Substantial support for organic farmers already exists through the new TAMS Organic Capital Investment Scheme which was launched recently and this new off-farm scheme now offers similar support for the organic processing sector.

Copies of the terms and conditions of the new Grant Scheme, together with application forms, are available from the Organic Farming Unit, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. Email: organicunit@agriculture.gov.ie Phone: 053-9163400

Launch of new Meath Economic Development Plan today

Jobs, Meath
Delighted to b joined by fellow Meath TD's Helen McEntee and Regina Doherty at the Meath Economic Development Plan launch today

Delighted to be joined by fellow Meath TD’s Helen McEntee and Regina Doherty at the Meath Economic Development Plan launch

I want to commend Meath County Council, its Cathaoirleach Cllr. Jim Holloway, Chief Executive Jackie Maguire, Economic Director Kevin Stewart and all their hard working staff for the launch of the new Meath Economic Strategy 2014-2022.

Those who contributed their practical experience and expertise to this strategy as part of the Meath Economic Forum under former Taoiseach John Bruton must also be thanked.

As I told the launch event today, only a positive, unified, consistent and evidence based approach will win new jobs, new business and new investment for Co. Meath.

Through the Strategy Launch, and the work feeding into it, Meath is announcing proudly to Ireland and the World that it has the people, skills, location infrastructure and native business ‘know how’ and success to greatly enhance and expand any outside enterprise that wants to make its home here.

The New Stone Age monuments of Newgrane, Knowth, Dowth and Loughcrew are often cited from a tourism point of view, and rightly so. But they also represent Meath’s proud history of innovation and invention established over 5000 years ago right up until the present day. That is the spirit and the energy we must channel into in the years ahead.

Meath County Council’s approach in putting itself front and centre at the heart of enterprise promotion in the County is one of the most progressive in the country. It represents a true embracing of the potential of last year’s Local Government reforms.

County Councils are about improving the quality of life of a County’s citizens. Good quality sustainable jobs are the best guarantee of quality of life. New sustainable locally based jobs are also the best guarantee that Meath County Council has the resources it needs to keep Meath at the forefront in enterprise, in tourism and in overall quality of life indicators.

The boom years were symbolised by excess and wasted opportunities. Whilst Meath got a legacy of excellent motorways it missed out on FDI and became a dormitory County for Dublin. Now as recovery takes hold, Meath must be aggressive and unapologetic in promoting its own interests to the country, and to the World.

All of us, no matter our political loyalties or personal ambitions, must go out and sell a message of positivity and hope about Meath’s future and potential. It is time for us all to don the  Royal jersey and work together.

This issue transcends politics. It is about parish and place. It’s about jobs to keep people at home, and jobs to bring people back home. The massively successful Tayto Park adorns the Meath jersey, and its ‘can do’ and ‘never say never’ approach and achievements should inspire us as Meath people in both sport and in business.

Launching Meath's new 2020 Economic Plan

Launching Meath’s new 2020 Economic Plan

English welcomes Meath County Council’s €300k commitment to Boyne Valley Greenway

Meath, Navan, Tourism, Transport
Cllr. Eugene Cassidy

Cllr. Eugene Cassidy

I welcome the news that Meath County Council has made a provision of €300,000 in its Capital Budget for the first stage of the Greenway from Navan to Kingscourt, as far as Wilkinstown in this stage.

Fine Gael Councillor in the Kells Electoral Area, Cllr. Eugene Cassidy has shown huge personal commitment to this project over a number of years, and played a key lobbying and networking role between Meath County Council, other local and national agencies, as well as local businesses and stakeholders/property owners. Today’s allocation of €300,000 for the first stage of the Navan to Kingscourt project is a good start and a vindication of the work undertaken over the past few years.

Walking and cycling are hugely important to our health, both physical and mental. They are also key growth activities in the tourism sector. This Greenway will significantly add to the exciting tourism offering of Meath, and help in the battle to ensure that Meath gets its fair share of the tourism market nationally which is expected to grow to €5 Billion and 250,000 jobs for the economy by 2020” the Minister said.

I am happy to play my role in Government lobbying the Department of Transport and Tourism to give its backing to this incredibly well advanced and researched project, which now has the benefit of considerable local funding also.