Family Resource Centres lobby to keep funding

THE potential ramifications of harsh budget decisions were brought home to Minister of Finance Brian Lenihan at a lobbying event by the Family Resource Centre yesterday.

Mr Lenihan was attending the Mountview Family Resource Centre in the heart of his Dublin West constituency.

The resource centres are fighting to retain funding in the wake of unfavourable recommendations in the An Bord Snip Nua report of Professor Colm McCarthy.

The National Forum has organised meetings in each constituency and recently met with Minister of Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin.

She has asked the forum to draw up proposals as to how savings could be made in running the centres.

This is currently being prepared.

The forum is also to plead its case before an Oireachtas Committee in early November.

Packie Kelly, chairperson of the Family Resource Centre National Forum, said at a time of economic hardship it would not be appropriate to handicap support services.

“The harsh reality of the economic downturn is that social problems are on the increase in Ireland.

“Unemployment is rising and, as a result, the pressures on families are increasing,” he said.

During the visit Mr Lenihan also expressed confidence that the Government will be intact by the time the budget is finalised and the coalition will get over the first hurdle presented by NAMA.

He said public mood did not suggest Green Party members would instruct their leadership to back out of Government before the vote is taken on the NAMA legislation.

“There’s been very strong public support for NAMA and I think you can see in the public press and the various announcements since the debate in the Dáil, there’s been a very positive direction to public opinion on this subject. And I am confident we will pass NAMA,” he said.

The Greens have already indicated their preference was to support NAMA but only with a number of additional policy caveats and substantial risk sharing element between the banks and taxpayers.

This rests on the controversial issue of valuation.

On this Mr Lenihan said that while a general 30% write-down will be applied, in the case of speculative sites with little development prospects the haircut will be much greater.

“Every item will be separately valued and individually valued. And if a field is worth €1m and it’s not going to be developed in the next 10 years, the value is €1m. I’ve made that clear throughout the debate,” he said.

And he said all amendments which are tabled to boost public confidence will be considered.

“We have to have public confidence in the legislation and I’ve made it clear I’m open to any amendments that generate and sustain that degree of confidence,” he said.


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