ISS21 researchers highlight the impact of austerity on local communities

9 Jun 2016
Cllr. Chris O’Leary, Lord Mayor with members of the ISS21 Civil Society Research Cluster, l-r: Déirdre O’Byrne, Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, Dr Carol Power, Ray O’Connor, Dr Catherine Forde and Jonathan Hall

Launch of Conference Proceedings: The Changing Landscape of Local and Community Development in Ireland: Policy and Practice

A study conducted by UCC researchers has highlighted the disempowering impact of austerity and reform on Ireland’s local and community development sectors.  Cuts to funding and the move towards competitive tendering have compromised the independence of many community and voluntary organisations, relegating them to the role of service providers.  Furthermore, the research suggests that the recent restructuring of local government, although implemented in the name of participative democracy, may in fact limit the ability of citizens to engage meaningfully with local government and access local services.  The researchers conclude that the voluntary and community sector has been decimated by cutbacks and the real impacts will continue to be manifested for years to come.

These findings emerged from a research initiative by members of the ISS21 Civil Society Research Cluster, which includes staff from the Departments of Applied Social Studies, Geography, Adult Continuing Education and the Centre for Co-operative Studies.  The research was published recently in the Proceedings of a Conference on The Changing Landscape of Local and Community Development in Ireland: Policy and Practice, held in UCC in October 2015.  The research project received financial support from the UCC Strategic Research Fund.

In her Foreword to the publication, Marian Harkin, Independent MEP, expressed her “anger and disbelief at what has happened to the once vibrant community and voluntary sector in Ireland . . . this document should serve as a red warning light for all who believe in and support community and voluntary action”. 

The publication was launched by Lord Mayor, Cllr. Chris O’Leary, in Cork City Hall on 2nd June.

The report is available to download at



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