One of the first actions which the Forum Working Group undertook as part of the County Development Board action plans was to undertake a wide ranging assessment of organisations operating within the rural area of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Robertson & Associates, Environmental Consultants were contracted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on behalf of Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown Community to carry out this research.
The project team conducted desktop research and field surveys via site visits and telephone calls in order to develop a database of community organisations operating within the rural area of Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown County. The final database now encompasses a total of 100 organisations including detailed specifications regarding their current activities and specific requirements.
The study area was defined by those lands located in the southern most region of Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council borders, delimited to the north and east by the south-western motorway, specifically Cabinteely, Loughlinstown, Glencullen, Shankill–Rathmichael and Tibradden. These are the areas regarded as rural by Dublin Leader. While this study area related to the rural component of Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council, this particular research also went beyond these boundaries to identify any organisations, which still operate or provide some form of service within the study area.
Contact details for each of the 100 organisations were collected and where different, details for the contact person were also noted. Aside from the establishment of a contact database the opportunity was also taken to gain an insight into the nature, objectives, geographic scope, accessibility, facilities, and requirements of each organisation. Thirty two per cent of the organisations are actually located outside of the study area, while the clear majority within the study area (33%) are located within the Cabinteely-Loughlinstown District Electoral Division (DED).
The proportion of organisations seems to bear a direct relationship to the relative population of each DED with the Shankill-Rathmichael DED containing 19% of the organisations and the Glencullen DED containing 16%. Most significantly, no organisations whatsoever were identified to be either located, or to be even active within the Tibradden DED.
A total of thirty-three separate categories were devised in order to characterise the different services and objectives of the organisation operating within and serving the rural component of Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown. These categories cover such diverse areas as sports, support, community improvement, education, youth organisations, advice, disadvantaged assistance and so on.
From all of these categories the majority of the organisations were involved with sports (20% in total), with 4% involved with soccer, 2% with tennis and 1% each involved with GAA, hockey and rugby. A further 11% of the organisations fell under the heading of other sports comprising badminton, boxing, bingo, bridge, cycling, horse-riding, golf, bowling, and martial arts to name but a few.
Following closely behind the next general category was education encompassing 19% of the total organisations. These included youth service centres (4%), adult learning centres (3%), training (4%), and other educational facilities (8%), which were predominantly comprised of disadvantaged skills, life skills and rehabilitation.
Prior to conducting the surveys a number of possible services were identified, which it now transpires are not provided within the study area. As a point of interest these were such areas as alcohol addiction, school run networks, parental care, family counselling, and homeless shelters.
Lack of alternative transport is often cited as one of the biggest problems with rural communities. While the relevant community organisations may be in place they may be substantially compromised in their ability to deliver by an inadequate transport infrastructure. The results would seem to contradict this with 45% of the organisations being serviced by more than eight buses per day. It should be noted however that while this service may seem adequate, it would on average require at least one bus route change for the majority of people to access these organisations, which is not always ideal. Twenty two per cent of the organisations are accessed by walking and 6% by bicycle, while 15% can be reached by the DART (these latter organisations are obviously located outside of the study area).
The alternative transport provision within the study area is not as efficient as within the urban area of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, and it is interesting to note that 6% of organisations noted that they had no means of alternative transport. Indeed anecdotal evidence received from the organisations was that even where alternative modes of transport are available, most people were reliant on private car transport as alternative modes were inconvenient or unreliable.
Each organisation approached was asked to identify any specific requirements which seem to be hampering them in providing their service. A clear majority stated that their meeting venues did not provide adequately for their needs with quite a number of comments calling for a serviced community centre. Surprisingly, nearly 40% of the organisations had no specific needs or requirements!
The report identified several organisations which provide structural funds for community organisations. It seems that many of those identified would appear to be eligible for some of the funding schemes but unfortunately there was a notable lack of awareness among them about these schemes. The report also noted that many organisations would have a better chance of drawing down fund s/ grants if they applied as geographic/ sectoral groups, which developed integrated strategies to pool common resources and serve common needs.