Check out Facebook for the most up to date information and please share!


LEADER 2014-2020

Following the outcome of an appeal by Galway County LCDC, FORUM is pleased to announce that it has been successful in its bid to administer the LEADER program (2014-2020) in Connemara.  We expect the Department to issue a formal contract in mid-October following which FORUM will hold a number of public meetings throughout Connemara to present the LEADER strategy, the funding available to support specific actions and the application process.

An official launch of the program will take place towards the end of this year (2016) following which FORUM will be open for receipt of expressions of interest and funding applications.

FORUM wishes to thank everyone who assisted in the strategic plan which won the bid – community groups, businesses and individuals who attended consultation meetings, submitted emails, letters and comments. This effort culminated in a robust, high quality plan for economic and social development in Connemara over the next five years.


Links to preparatory documentation on LEADER 2014-2020


Press Release 1/3/16

FORUM Connemara Ltd believes that the manner in which County Galway LCDC took the controversial decision in September 2014, to establish only one ‘lot’ for the delivery of SICAP throughout the entire county, was flawed.

On the strength of the evidence presented last year, the Commercial Court granted FORUM leave for a Judicial Review into that controversial decision and other related matters. However, before that case could be heard the LCDC promptly appealed that grant of leave, and this Appeal was upheld last Friday (26th Feb) on the technical grounds that FORUM was out of time to take its case.

This does not alter FORUM’s contention that the original decision of September 2014 by LCDC was grievously flawed in law and was a retrograde step for local democracy and community development.

LCDC has awarded the contract for the delivery of the SICAP programme throughout Connemara to the Athenry based company GRD, and this, and other matters, is to be the subject of High Court proceedings in June.

Meanwhile, FORUM continues to provide and deliver essential social inclusion services throughout Connemara, with 25 years community-based experience of how best to develop this unique region. For further information on FORUM’s work visit

A date for a hearing into some of the substantive issues surrounding the award of the contract for the SICAP programme to another Company has now been listed for June 2016.



Update 10th Februray 2016

A large number of people gathered last night in Letterfrack to support FORUM Connemara. FORUM handed a letter to the General Election candidates who attended a panel interview with Connemara Community Radio.


FORUM’s board, staff and supporters want to know what the politicians’ position is – are they supporting FORUM’s position to be the LAG for Connemara?


Over the past twenty five years FORUM has delivered social and economic programmes to address the isolation and marginalisation of people living in Connemara using the “bottom up” approach to rural development – where the community participate in decision-making about strategy and the selection of the priorities to be pursued in the local area. FORUM do not want to cede twenty five years’ experience of successful community development.

See below letter that was given to all the candidates who attended the panel interview at Connemara Radio last night.




Dear Candidate,

Do you support FORUM’s efforts to deliver the LEADER programme 2014-2020 in Connemara?

To date Noel Grealish (T.D) is the only candidate running for election in this constituency to offer unequivocal support to FORUM in its efforts to retain Local Action Group (LAG) status and to manage and deliver the new LEADER programme 2014-2020 in the Connemara area.

As a LAG, FORUM would retain control over the management and implementation of the LEADER programme for Connemara thus being in a position to deliver its development strategy – a strategy which has been compiled following widespread public consultation throughout Connemara over the past three months. The strategy emulates the European Community Led Local Development (CLLD) approach - ‘bottom up’ approach which has worked well in Ireland over the past 20 years. However this has now been changed to a Government ‘top down’ approach to rural development with decisions no longer being made by the local community but instead control and decision making powers being given to the County Council led Local Community Development Committee (LCDC).


For FORUM to continue its work in service delivery and more importantly continue to empower the local community groups and individuals in making decisions, it is essential that it maintains its LAG status.


It is crucial that FORUM continues to manage and deliver the LEADER and other social and economic programmes in Connemara as articulated at a public meeting in Maam Cross in March 2015 where over 700 people attended.


How can the experience gained over the past twenty five years, gathered at a local community level, be totally disregarded and replaced by a committee based outside the area which has no real community led local development experience or ethos?


FORUM are now calling on you as a candidate running for election to the highest office in the land to clearly state your position in relation to FORUM’s efforts to continue as a LAG and to manage and deliver the LEADER element of the Rural Development programme (RDP ) in the Connemara municipal district.


Yours Faithfully,


Terry Keenan



Election Debate at Connmeara Community Radio 9th Februray 2016










Press release from Deputy Noel Grealish 25/09/2015

“Independent TD Noel Grealish has called on all Oireachtas members in County Galway to support a campaign to ensure that funding decisions are made in Connemara for the people of Connemara and that the area isn’t left severely disadvantaged in new funding programmes to tackle poverty, social exclusion and unemployment.

He is backing the efforts of Forum Connemara Ltd to continue its work helping disadvantaged individuals and communities in the Connemara region by being allowed oversee the rollout of  the new Leader Programme and the new Social Inclusion Programme (SICAP).

Forum, based in Letterfrack, was a programme implementer for the 2007-2013 Leader plan and they worked extremely well building a solid relationship with the communities and assisting in the delivery of a large number of beneficial community projects, he said.

However, the Department of the Environment has reconfigured the delivery of Leader and the new SICAP programmes nationally, resulting in Galway Rural Development, which previously acted as the agent for the east of the county, being offered  the overseeing of services in the whole of the county.
That means GRD  would take charge of the Connemara area previously overseen by  Forum.

'The fear in Connemara is that it will be squeezed out and left out in the cold in the allocation of funding for projects under the new Leader programme,' said Deputy Grealish. No longer would decisions be made in Connemara for the overall well being of the area.

'Forum has a strong tradition in community activation, with a wealth of experience among Board members and hugely experienced personnel working with community groups on the ground.

'It is a good solid company that has an exceptional track record over 25 years and it would be a shame to dismantle what they have built up.'
Deputy Grealish said that it was ironic that while the Government was saying to the European Commission that the new Leader programme was a 'bottoms up approach' one with a 'community led development approach' the majority of the Board and the community in Connemara believed that they were being forced to accept a top down decision to go in under the Local Authority led LCDC.

European regulation require a LAG (Local Action Group) to deliver to  a population of between 10,000 and 150,000.

'On foot of this Cork County were designated with 3 LAGs, but Galway, with a population of 175,000, is being forced to work with one LAG.

Deputy Grealish has recently met with MEP, Marian Harkin in relation to this matter and she has confirmed that in view of its population size, a derogation has been sought from the EU for Galway County to operate as one LAG, which would have been unnecessary if Forum were allocated the Connemara area.’
MEP Harkin is also of the view that County Galway should have been split into Local Action Groups in view of the size of Galway and the distinct differences between the east and west of the county.

'You have counties like Leitrim with the same population as Connemara, and ten other counties with a smaller geographical area than Connemara all with their own LAG.

'Yet everyone knows that Connemara is as distinctly different to the East of Galway as any other county, it has a very different geographical landscape, a significant area with a different language, with different needs, aspirations and solutions.

'It makes perfect sense to split the county, for the purpose of these programmes, into two areas, and to ring fence specific money for Connemara without affecting money allocated to the rest of the county.

'This way it won’t make any difference to communities on the east, who would continue under GRD as before,' Deputy Grealish pointed out.


For further information please contact Deputy Noel Grealish at 086-8509466 “


Consultation about the new LEADER Programme – ‘Have Your Say’ 2014-2020/Comhairliúchán faoin gClár nua LEADER – 'Do Thuairim a Léiriú' 2014 – 2020


List of Venues


28th September 2015

Further Education Centre, Oughterard

5.30 -7.30 pm

28th September 2015

Moycullen Community Centre

8.30-10.30 pm

29th September 2015

Roundstone Lower Hall

7.30-9.30 pm

29th September 2015

Claddaghduff Hall

7-9 pm

30th September 2015

Maam Community Centre

8-10 pm

30th September 2015

Clifden Station House Hotel

8-10 pm

1st October 2015

Offices of FORUM, Letterfrack





28ú Meán Fómhair 2015

Comharchumann Shailearna Teo, Indreabhán


29ú Meán Fómhair 2015

Ionad Pobail Chill Chiaráin


30ú Meán Fómhair 2015

Coláiste Cuimhneacháin an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc


1ú Deireadh Fómhair 2015

Muintearas, Tír an Fhia, Leitir


2ú Deireadh Fómhair 2015

An Crompán, An Cheathrú Rua



Clarification on FORUM's Position for LEADER 2014-2020

Chun an leagan Gaeilge don ráitis seo a fháil, cliceáil anseo, le do thoil.

Further to the clarification sought by Galway County LCDC from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government on the 1st July 2015 in relation to the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and the subsequent response by Department on the 1st July 2015 ,the Board of FORUM Connemara Ltd. wishes  to express its unreserved desire for the full coverage of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 across the totality of the Galway county region. In Forum’s view this can be achieved by the LCDC adjusting its area of coverage to east Galway with FORUM managing and delivering the Rural Development Programme in Connemara.

There are a number of reasons why FORUM should be the LAG for Connemara.  The EU Commissions own regulatory framework  expresses a distinct desire to keep Local Development  Strategy areas to a population of not less than 10,000 and not more than 150,000 inhabitants. This is rooted in the understanding that strategies need not necessarily correspond to some predefined administrative boundary but rather that the strategies should be a true reflection of the development needs and potential of the area, including an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  In conjunction with this principle FORUM sees its role as not merely an agent of programme delivery but as an instrument of rural and community development, that reflects the needs and desires of the community and translates these into a response that best serves the people of Connemara. Staying true to its principle and in keeping with the expressed desire of the Connemara people FORUM Connemara Ltd. which has been uniquely charged with and successfully delivered a wide variety of social and economic programmes over the past 25 years intends to complete a Local Development Strategy for the Municipal District of Connemara.

FORUM believes strongly that Connemara is a unique and distinct district both geographically and culturally from the east of the county and past experience have clearly demonstrated that decisions made outside the area are less favourable to the area that those taken by Connemara people/structures themselves.  The people of Connemara are best served by a strategy that is developed and reflects the local context rather than being absorbed into a county wide strategy. They also believe that the decision making authority for local and rural development should be maintained in the Connemara area. This is fully in line with best practice, the EU principle of subsidiarity (that is making decisions as close to the people as possible) and indeed reflects the EU Regulatory framework that notes “Community-led local development should take into account local needs and potential, as well as relevant socio-cultural characteristics. Responsibility for the design and implementation of community-led local development strategies should be given to local action groups representing the interests of the community, as an essential principle” (REGULATION (EU) No 1303/2013).

Forum Connemara is available to meet with the LCDC and or other interested parties to discuss our proposal.



Update on Galway County LCDC v's FORUM Connemara:

Following on from Mr Justice Max Barrett's decision on 17th June to allow a full hearing to go ahead, the Galway County LCDC appealed his decision. This matter came before Mr Justice Peter Kelly on 20th July where he gave an appeal date of 8th February 2016.

Meanwhile Mr Justice Brian McGovern deferred a decision on a date for a full hearing, and will revisit the issue on 19th October 2015.
We will issue further updates as the information becomes available regarding the SICAP situation. FORUM would like to thank the community for your continued support and interest.


FORUM Granted Leave for Full Judicial Hearing

Judge Max Barrett has delivered a written judgement allowing a full hearing in the High Court to go ahead.
He ruled that FORUM Connemara’s challenge to the decision should be allowed proceed, despite objections from a Galway County Council committee (LCDC) that the case was brought after the tender process was completed.
The judge rejected the LCDC’s claim that FORUM Connemara was trying to “have its cake and eat it” by going through the tender process, being unsuccessful, and then bringing a legal challenge.

The judge refused to grant LCDC an order striking out the proceedings. A date for a full hearing will be announced next week.

Although FORUM is pleased with the outcome to date, we continue to remain committed to finding an agreed solution to the current impasse.
In the meantime, services will continue to be delivered under the outgoing Local Community Development Programme.

FORUM would like to thank the Connemara community for their continued support.


Update on Events 7th May

FORUM wishes to thank all of you for your continued support. As you may be aware FORUM was granted a judicial review in the High Court scheduled for the 12th May. This initial judicial review sought by FORUM was to question the process and decision of County Galway LCDC to allocate one lot for Co. Galway for the delivery of SICAP. However Catherine McConnell, Chief Officer of Galway County Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) has now initiated separate proceedings to have this matter heard in the Commercial Court. These proceedings are due for a hearing on Monday the 11th of May. If it is chosen to deal with this matter in the Commercial Court by way of a full hearing, it will inevitably have serious funding implications for FORUM to pursue this matter to the full extent necessary and could be prohibitive. It is our understanding that cases dealt with in the Commercial Court can cost up to €500,000. Your ongoing support and your attendance at public meetings and communication with public representatives has been of great help up to now. FORUM’s aim is still to have a separate SICAP programme delivered for the Connemara people in the Connemara region. With your support we will pursue this until a satisfactory outcome has been achieved. A further update will be communicated after Monday the 11th of May 2015.

Update on Actions 23rd March

Thank you to everyone who has supported FORUM in our campaign. The emails, the letters, the phone-calls, the texts, the public meeting, the protest. We are so grateful to everyone.

On Monday 23rd March FORUM was granted a judicial review to Question the decision of County Galway LCDC to allocate one lot for Co. Galway for the delivery of SICAP. The hearing will take place on 12th May 2015. We will continue to communicate with you via facebook, twitter and our website but we have to take the online petition down as it is very important that the judicial review is not prejudiced in any way.

All protest marches have been suspended until after the 12th May (judicial review hearing date). We have not given up the fight - we just need to be sure that the judicial review is not prejudged in any way. Please continue to contact your public representatives to express your concerns though.


Press Release 20th March

Next steps in Save FORUM Connemara Campaign:

FORUM Connemara received a clear message from a public meeting recently that the community is standing behind the Save FORUM Connemara campaign. The community are resolved to fight on for FORUM & what it stands for - that decisions about services in Connemara should be made by the Connemara people.

FORUM Connemara Ltd – a community development partnership company based in Connemara has received devastating news that social inclusion programmes that it has been delivering for the last 25 years will come to an end shortly.

The next step of this campaign is as follows - A letter of protest is being handed in to the next monthly meeting of Galway County Council on Monday 23rd March at 11am at the Connemara Coast Hotel, Furbo, Co. Galway. This letter outlines FORUM’s outrage at the decision of Galway County LCDC to have only one ‘lot’ for the delivery of the social inclusion programme - SICAP in County Galway.

A representative group of Board, staff and beneficiaries of FORUM will convene at the Connemara Coast Hotel at 10am and the letter will be handed in by a number of Board members.

The campaign’s intention is that larger protests at key Galway County Council and LCDC meetings will take place over the coming months. This campaign wants one thing – a separate lot under the Social Inclusion Programme (SICAP) for Connemara.


If you wish to express your outrage at this decision please contact the people listed below.

If you wish to express your outrage at this decision please contact the people listed below.

Public Representative

Telephone Number

Email address

Mr. Sean Kyne T.D.,



Co. Galway

091 868111


Derek Nolan T.D.,

Bothar na Long,

New Docks,


091 561006

Noel Grealish T.D.,



Co. Galway

091 764807

Mr. Brian Walsh T.D.,

114 Bohermore,


091 513051


Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív T.D., Kirwin House,

Flood Street,


091 562846


Cllr. Eileen Mannion,


Co. Galway

087 9555645

Cllr. Niamh Byrne,



Co. Galway

087 9250568

Cllr. Seamus Walsh,



Co. Galway

087 0519884

091 552726

Cllr. Tom Healy,

Railway View,


Co. Galway

083 4493319

Cllr. Sean O’Tuairisc

Aille Thiar,


Co. Galway


086 3864179

091 593084

Cllr. Tomás Ó Curraoin

Na Fothraí Maola Thiar, Bearna,

Co. Galway

087 2933782

Cllr. Seosamh Ó Cualáin

Gleann Treasna,

Rosmuc, Co. Galway


087 6279220

Cllr. Thomas Welby



Co. Galway


087 2855676


Cllr. Noel Thomas



Co. Galway

087 7372147


Senator. Trevor Ó Clochartaigh,

An Caorán Beag ,

An Cheathrú Rua,

Co. na Gaillimhe




Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, Leinster House,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2

087 6776937

Senator Hildegarde Naughton

Local Office 2 Bóthar Bhrendáin Uí Eithir, Forster Court, Galway.

(01) 618 3198




SICAP Programme National Administrators

Denis Leamy CEO


Holbrook House,

Holles Street,

Dublin 2

01 511 7112



The Chairperson of the  Committee that decided on Galway as one region/Lot


Jimmy McCleran


Galway County LCDC

090 9676235

Galway County Council

The organisation that facilitates the running of the LCDC

Kevin Kelly

Acting County Manager

Galway County Council

Áras an Chontae,

Prospect Hill,


091 509000



Catherine McConnell

Chief Officer

Galway County Council

Áras an Chontae,

Prospect Hill,


091 509000



Update on Actions

Press Release 14/3/15 – A ground swell of support to SAVE FORUM Connemara (see below for photos of the meeting in Maam Cross)

A huge public meeting took place in Peacockes Hotel, Maam Cross last Thursday night where FORUM Connemara received a clear message that the community is standing behind them.  A very constructive meeting was organised as a response to the threat of the closure of the company following the loss of a core social programme.

The programme called SICAP will be delivered by another company therefore Connemara will no longer be making decisions about how programmes are managed/how services and what services will be delivered – these decisions will be made elsewhere. Connemara is a wonderfully unique place to live but has massive difficulties in terms of weak infrastructure, poor services, many barriers to running a business - it is difficult to understand the problems unless you live here.

FORUM have been inundated with messages of solidarity - phone calls, emails, texts and letters from beneficiaries of services and the wider community - all worried about the effect this will have on the community into the future.

The meeting gave FORUM a firm directive - to undertake further action to reverse the decision by a committee within Galway County Council called the LCDC to allow only one company in County Galway to deliver the social programme (SICAP).

The Company are looking at all options in regard to the next steps to be taken including legal, political and social options. FORUM is asking the community to keep the issue alive by contacting their public representatives, executives of Galway County Council, the LCDC committee and Pobal.

FORUM will be launching an online petition next week and updates will be posted on the SAVE FORUM Connemara facebook page, on Twitter, Connemara Community Radio and on the FORUM Connemara website


Attendance at Public Meeting in Maam Cross 12th March










Press release: 4/3/15 from FORUM Connemara Ltd –

FORUM Connemara Board expresses outrage – almost 200 jobs at risk FORUM Connemara Ltd – a community development partnership company based in Connemara has received devastating news that social inclusion programmes that it has been delivering for the last 25 years will come to an end on March 31st 2015. As a result the FORUM board today were left with no option but to put ten workers on protective notice – in a small rural community this will have a devastating effect on these employees, their families and the wider community. This is the equivalent to a large factory closure in an urban area. These core staff members provide the management, administration and project delivery to a number of schemes including CE, RSS, TUS, Local Community Development Programme, Adolescent support, the LEADER programme and the Rural Recreation Scheme. The loss of these vital staff will have a serious impact on the viability of the company. Almost 200 jobs are at serious risk. Hugh Musgrave IFA representative on the board said “the cumulative effect of this decision could lead to the whole demise of the company resulting in the erosion of services to this vulnerable community, services which have been built up over the last 25 years.” These services include services to the elderly - transport to Clifden day hospital, meals on wheels, essential housing repairs, respite breaks, carers support, people with disabilities, farm family support and a series of youth work programmes in Primary and Post Primary Schools. “The decision to have one company delivering this social programme in a county as large and diverse as Galway defies logic. Particularly when the programmes in smaller counties such as Mayo, Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry will be delivered by two companies in each county, in fact Cork has seven lots.” Leo Hallissey Board Member It is obvious with the scale and quality of the work delivered by FORUM, that it is deeply embedded in the everyday life of this fragile, rural community. It is hoped that common sense will prevail and that the logical rationale would be that Galway Rural Development will continue to deliver the programme in the East of the County and FORUM West of the Corrib. John Coyne – CEO – 095-41116 or 087-9634200 Terry Keenan – Chair - 087-9281562

Recent FORUM publication in the Connemara Journal newspaper


Welcome to FORUM Connemara Ltd.

FORUM Connemara Ltd. is a rural development partnership of voluntary, community and statutory bodies based in Non Gaeltacht Connemara, with the objective of putting in place strategies and programmes to tackle the problem of rural decline and peripherality. FORUM was established by Connemara West in 1989 as one of the model action projects of the Poverty Three Programme (1989-1994). Since 1994 FORUM received core funding under the Community Development Programme and a number of state agencies. In 2006/2007, negotiations, discussions and research between key stakeholders, local and central government, concluded that FORUM was well placed to deliver the Axis 3 Programme for that area of Galway known as non Gaeltacht Connemara. The plan is a robust, imaginative and innovative strategy, embedded in the culture, resources, strengths and needs of Connemara.
In 2010 the Community Development Programme and the Local Social Inclusion Programme were amalgamated and FORUM is co-ordinating the Local Community Development Programme (LCDP).  

FORUM also co-ordinates an Adolescent Support Programme, three FAS Community Employment Schemes; one FAS Job Initiative Scheme, one Rural Social Scheme and a Tús programme. The main aim of FORUM is to promote, assist and engage in; a. Social Development, b. Enterprise Development to facilitate rural regeneration and c. Community Development, designed to benefit and promote the welfare of the local communities or to deal with the causes and consequences of social and economic disadvantage or poverty.  FORUM works with the following target groups: older people, families, young people, community groups, businesses and under and unemployed.  
The catchment area covered by the FORUM partnership faces many challenges and opportunities in terms of realising sustainable development objectives over the coming years. Much of the territory is structurally weak, with poor connectivity, a low level of demographic vitality and a narrow economic base. Structural weaknesses are most profound in the north, west and centre of the territory, where there is a high level of dependence on small-scale farming/fishing and seasonal employment.

The east of the territory, which includes the town of Oughterard, represents the fringe of an expanding peri-urban zone around Galway city.

Forum Catchment Area

Electoral Divisions

FORUM Connemara Ltd; Reg. No 160282. Reg. Office: Letterfrack, Connemara,
Co. Galway, Ireland. Registered Chaitable staus No. CHY9925,