Five jobs have been axed at the Lough Ree Development Co-Op in Lanesboro. The announcement came last Friday after Pobal pulled its funding under the Community Services Programme (CSP). This funding had been used by the co-op to pay its staff salaries.
Pobal and members of the board of Lough Ree Development Co-Op had been locked in discussions for the past two months in an effort to find a resolution to the difficulties which had emerged. However, negotiations were unsuccessful and the funding was pulled at the end of last week.
Speaking to the Leader, Cllr Mark Casey, Chairman of Lough Ree Development Co-Op board said that while he was “very disappointed” with the removal of the funding and “saddened” by the loss of the five jobs, the board would continue to provide the co-op’s services to the local community. “Pobal has ceased funding. The board has done everything humanly possible to try and secure the funding which was made available to the co-op under CPS. We are gutted and staff here have done great work with the community,” he said.
Cllr Casey went on to say that while a lot of community initiatives would now be “jeopardised in Lanesboro”, the board was “fully committed” to the provision of services in the short-term.
“In the short-term, the board will keep the building open and there is no immediate threat to youth services, the boxing club or the bridge club,” the chairman said. “However there is no doubt that services will inevitably be scaled back as a result of funding cuts.”
A spokesperson for the five staff who lost their jobs at the co-op said that “staff were in no way responsible” for the job losses.
Meanwhile, Pobal issued a short statement on the matter. “Pobal had been in communication with the board of Lough Ree Development Co-Op regarding its CSP contract and delivery of the service,” a spokesperson said, adding that it was the organisation’s policy “not to comment publicly on such matters”.
“In 2010, Pobal allocated over €270 million to more than 4,000 groups. In any given year around 600 verification and audit visits are conducted. Details of these visits are presented to Pobal’s Finance Sub-Committee, whose attention is drawn to any audits/verification visits where significant issues of concern have been identified.
“During 2010 Pobal terminated its contractual arrangements with five beneficiary groups as a result of its internal audit/verification process. The fact that only five of the groups funded through Pobal have had their contracts terminated represents a very high level of compliance by the organisation’s beneficiaries.”