Cavan Claiming Our Future – Meeting 4 October 2010. Cavan.
12 people attended the meeting and a few apologies were given. There was interesting discussion ranging over the following areas.
Fairness and Equality
Need to think about maximum wages as well as minimum wage. We need a vision which focuses on quality of life rather than servicing the economy. This needs to incorporate the potential and importance of family/community life.
This would involve creating local employment opportunities, a strong sense of community and active volunteering. Need to target young people with appropriate training.
Elections are key but we need to develop ‘voter responsibility’ and encourage engagement. This should be part of life skills training. Should it be mandatory to vote?
Voter education is essential – particularly around the PR system which can impede potentially good candidates. Responsibilities as well as rights need to be addressed and debated.
We have a strong EU and central government but local government is very weak. Should local government have more responsibilities (social services/education) and power to balance the engagement? This would enable people to participate more and possibly attract more experienced and able candidates for local councils. Accountability and participation of people in our communities is crucial objective.
Need more diverse and representative Politicians at all levels – current system is not attracting same – e.g. women etc. under represented - ways to improve this need to be examined
The role of the EU and our ability to implement regulations and legislation needs to be discussed.
Can we look at the Nordic approach?
Strong feeling that we need to invest in sustainable technologies – wind turbine, bio-mass energy, grow it ourselves. This provides many opportunities for small businesses that would benefit from better supports. Already in Cavan there are small businesses evolving in this area.
Would like to see better training of under employed trades people in this area of work. Cavan is an agricultural based county and we need to improve our local food production – this would have economic, social and agricultural benefits.
New initiatives could include better networking around sustainable technology opportunities, specific training programmes for trades people, investment in local community initiatives.
We need to support expansion of Cavan Institute services/courses and promote ideas about back to work community initiatives that are both about community services and creating sustainable employment in our local comnmmunities.
Ireland’s economic strategy needs to be developed on sustainable technologies. Because of the country’s geographic location and its geological make up, investment in sustainable energy will provide the jobs and new industrial base we need and it dovetails neatly with our agricultural background.
Specifically we need to create new initiatives in job growth in this area looking at part time posts and the social economy which would enable us to forge the community and family commitments as well.
The role of County Enterprise Boards in providing grants & support for new small businesses needs to be strengthened and also the grant system across CEBs / LEADERs etc. needs to be streamlined and application processes simplified for people
We need stronger mentoring role for people and some streamlining of information and training provision so that training and information is easier to access.
Can we develop a stronger co-operative movement?
Role and Interaction of Public and Private Sectors.
We would like to make better use of local expertise – be it in the private, public and community sector. Each sector has developed specific expertises which would benefit the other sectors if supported. We need to have more hands on, cross sectoral engagement in the operation of county wide initiatives. More secondments between the sectors.
Public services need to b improved…there could be NGOs set up which put profits back into the services. This could be achieved through new approaches involving co-operative bodies.
How is money allocated – need more transparency and discussion as to how Ireland spends money. There seems to top heavy influence of the big farmers and the international players (supermakets) – global capitalism needs to be addressed.
Is there a better way of people engaging in policy making? This might foster more social and civic responsibility. How can political parties be more open and responsive to local concerns in terms of policy development as opposed to individual needs.
How can we improve and support participatory democracy at local level. Volunteers and local community activists need better support from local authorities and state sector.
Volunteers are relied on to provide the face of engagement but no support or resources are provided.
Taxation and Income
Cuts cannot be accepted as the basis for recovery. We need new jobs initiatives and a focus on developing a sustainable technology industrial base in Ireland.
We need to reward risk takers but have a balanced equality in our taxation system (maximum pay?). The self employed and PAYE operation is not balanced. We need progressive taxation based on the principle that people on higher incomes contribute accordingly. Wages need to be addressed in all sectors. The principle of a living wage for all needs to be considered.
There must be transparency in our taxation and wages system and we must avoid poverty traps.
In this globalised Neo-liberal society we need critical citizens to develop democracy because to create democracy is to build a knowledge society for the public good as apposed to a knowledge economy which serves privet interests.
Education, in my view is the vehicle needed in this bleak landscape and it can provides hope, meaning and purpose for participants in this contemporary environment as up-skilling and back to work schemes. Knowledge Society needs knowledgeable citizens – remembering that the present economic environment will pass.
When it comes to 30th October event can Cavan COF consider/think that there is an alternative to the current concensus (amongst economists & all main parties) that spending cuts (3% deficit reduction target by 2014) is the only answer. Alternatives have to include some spending cuts and increasing some taxes but also stimulus funding measures that create jobs and grow the economy and thus avoid deflation and a sustained economic and social depression. Community enterprise fights back. Vision and hope and optimism are essential.
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