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It was surprising to read that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government plan to end funding from December 31 for five community development offices for the non-gaeltacht islands of Bere, Clare, Whiddy, Sherkin, Dursey, Long, Heir, Inishturk and Inishbofin.
Most of the islands concerned are off the County Cork coast.
These islands have forged supportive relationships along the south and west coast in the last 15 years as a result of the existence of the CDOs. As a result, populations appear to have increased or remained steady at some of the islands. Tourism also increased.
Representatives of these islands were to raise the issue in Dublin. Hopefully, TDs in the constituencies where the islands are located can persuade the Government to support these offices and their community development officers to continue their work.
A lot of effort has been invested in setting them up over the years and it would be unfortunate to now end what has become a lynchpin for these communities.
The funding may seem a lot to the Department but they must look at the big picture such as the wellbeing of island communities.
The hope is the Department will re-examine the issue and retain funding for what is a vital community service.
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