Welcome to The Wheel's Election 2011 section
The general election which will take place on 25 February, 2011 will be a very important one for Irish people and communities. As a representative organisation, The Wheel has and will continue to engage with political parties to advance our members' vision for the community, voluntary, charity sector in Ireland.
Below you will find The Wheel's Priorities for a New Government - a concise but thorough document outlining our vision for the way ahead for the Irish community and voluntary sector in this rapidly changing political and economic landscape.
Also below The Wheel present their analysis of the manifestos of the main political parties, getting to the heart of what the various parties have in store for the Irish community and voluntary sector.
It is noteworthy that in the Q&A session, all five parties present committed their respective parties to include in their manifestos and public policy documents, specific policy objectives for the strengthening and development of the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. We subsequently commissioned an independent analysis of these documents in order to verify this. The findings were presented at the second General Election Forum on 21 February. Get the presentations & reports here.
The Programme for Government sets out a very ambitious set of objectives under a wide range of headers, many of which will have impacts on the work of community and voluntary organisations in the years ahead.
With the social and economic crisis intensifying and hundreds of thousands of people fearing for their livelihoods and the wellbeing of their families and friends, the work of Ireland’s 7,500 charitable, community and voluntary groups is more important than ever.Read more...
The following report, titled Independent and Interdependent: Sustaining a Strong and Vital Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland, is based on structured conversations with 25 leaders in the community and voluntary sector.Read more...
Summary of Minister Carey's remarks:
- Excellent progress in creating structured dialogue for the Irish community and voluntary sector has been achieved in recent years.
- What is clear is that there is a huge amount of local community involvement taking place across the country. We need to develop a vision to accompany this community activity - a vision of where we want this country to go.
- There needs to be a degree of continuity from one Government to the next, regardless of who wins in the election, to ensure that the already broadly supported strategy that we have introduced for working with the community and voluntary sector is not abandoned.
- Existing funding structures (including the three-year scheme for national organisations) should be maintained. Frontline services should take priority. Funding has already been cut as much as possible and any further cuts would make it hard for organisations to continue to exist.
- Another method organisations should consider is consolidation. This is not to end organisations, but rather to provide coherence in these tough times.
Watch video of Pat Carey's presentation:
Summary of Jack Wall's remarks:
- Protecting the important work done by the community and voluntary sector is essential and, as such, we will ensure that funding to the sector is protected and maintained.
- Community and voluntary organisations need to ensure they are getting the maximum amount of efficiency and savings out of their current funding. Similarly, we should ensure that as many groups as possible are supported, rather than it just being a select few.
- The framework developed by Minister Carey represents an excellent starting point - one that should be further developed and in order to improve the capacity capacity of the sector to deliver much-needed services.
- The Labour Party remain committed to working in partnership with the Irish community and voluntary sector.
Watch video of Jack Walls's presentation:
Summary of Frank Feighan's remarks:
- While adhering to the necessities of deficit reduction, we intend to work in consultation with the community and voluntary sector in order to avoid a 'slash and burn' approach to spending.
- We intend to have limited tax increases, a job stimulus plan and radical public sector reform, the latter of which will impact upon the community and voluntary sector.
- We have identified a new UK-inspired model of financing social programmes. The mode, Social Impact Bonds, would see us using a proportion of savings derived from deficit reduction measures to finance social interventions.
- We also support the Charities bill and it's implementation, as we believe it will make a huge difference in supporting the work that charities do as we move forward.
Watch video of Frank Feighan's presentation:
Summary of Aengus O'Snodaigh's remarks:
- An increase in participatory democracy could help to avoid the mistakes of the past. This need for increased democratisation could benefit public services, where the voice of ordinary people - who are, after all, the main service users of public services - is too often ignored.
- Greater investment in the Irish community and voluntary sector in the future saves the State money in the long run (through the services the sector provides).
- Multi-annual funding is required to help groups within the sector to plan on a long-term and sustainable basis.
- Schemes such as the Community Exployment scheme can have on the wider community and should be maintainted / extended.
- The annual amount of money that should be made available via the Dormant Accounts fund should be in the region of 40-50 million Euros, as this will allow groups that benefit from it to plan ahead.
- There should be a VAT refund scheme for not for profit organisations, which should assist the community and voluntary sector without costing the State a large amount of money.
Watch video of Aengus O'Snodaigh's presentation:
Summary of Dan Boyle's remarks:
- The days of the Celtic Tiger were both good and bad for the Irish community and voluntary sector. They were good because of the influx of (not always well targeted) funding that the economy then provided. But they were also bad due to the spread of the idea that an individual is solely responsible for themselves, in lieu of the wider community.
- In this time of scarce resources, greater emphasis now needs to be placed upon the role of the volunteer - both within the community and voluntary sector, as well as throughout local communities.
- Innovative methods of supporting and rewarding volunteering need to be considered, including through time money systems and a tax relief system to recognise work done locally.
- On a wider basis, reform of the county-based structure of governance should be looked at. At present, for example, you have a system in which the vote of a councillor in Leitrim carries more weight than the vote of a councillor in Dublin. We need a kind of district council approach to local government.
- People working within the Irish community and voluntary sector - and who work to deliver services that we should all be able to expect - should be at the forefront of the debate over taxation and how much the top earners should be paying.
Watch video of Dan Boyle's presentation:
The Wheel will be blogging Election 2011, offering you opinion and information to help you keep on top of events as they unfold.
Keep up to date with The Wheel's take on Election 2011 with our Policy & Advocacy blog: http://www.wheel.ie/sector-big-picture/policy-blog
Watch a news report about The Wheel's 'Election 2011 Member Forum', as featured on RTE's Six-One News on 26 January, 2011.
Visit our Media section to listen to additional podcasts and keep up to date on The Wheel's voice in the media.