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Donegal County Council firmly at top of Ladder

 Leader Donegal


Last week saw Donegal County Council welcome 33 international delegates from 11 Countries including Croatia, Poland, Tunisia, Bulgaria, Malta, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Italy, Denmark and Belgium to the County. The delegates who were here as part of the LADDER project - took part in  a three-day EU level training course on Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR).  They were amazed and delighted by the hospitality they received during their brief visit to Donegal.


Letterkenny Mayor Gerry McMonagle addressed the group on their first day of training in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny saying it was an honour that they had chosen to come to Donegal and wished them well in their intensive programme.


The training was delivered by the Hague Academy for Local Governance from the Netherlands who offer training programmes that are made by and for people involved in local governance. The LADDER project is a considerable collaboration of Government and non-Government organisations across 35 different Countries under the umbrella of lead partner ALDA - European Association for Local Democracy. 


An official welcome reception was held in the beautiful surroundings of Glenveagh Castle last Wednesday evening 15th July 2015 for the delegates.  Donegal County Council Cathaoirleach Ciaran Brogan said “we are delighted to be a partner in this project and it is great that so many countries are represented at this training event which is being hosted in Donegal.  It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase what Donegal has to offer visitors whether they are on holiday or participating in an event such as this”. The visit to Glenveagh was a refreshing addition to the demanding training schedule of the delegates and the graceful dancing of the Rí-Oga Dance Academy accompanied by local musicians provided a beautiful end to the evening for the audience many of which were first time visitors to Donegal and Ireland.


Donegal County Council’s Social Inclusion Unit are leading out on the LADDER project which aims to change attitudes and improve public understanding of issues and difficulties facing developing countries tackling global poverty, promoting justice, human rights, and sustainable ways of living.   Donegal County Council staff took part in the training which aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and civil society organisations to act in a sustainable way as drivers for development.


There was a unanimous plea by the international delegates for a "trip to the ocean" to see the beauty of our coastline. Some had only experienced the Baltic Sea which has a tiny tidal range of a few centimetres so were delighted to experience the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean at Killyhoey beach, Dunfanaghy on Thursday evening following their days training.


On Friday the group were treated to a showcase of Donegal projects that addressed some of the thematic areas of the project such as "youth in development" and "citizen participation".  Presentations were given by the Donegal Youth Council, IDP Changemakers Project, SPACEialNW and Donegal Tourism.  The projects gave the international delegates a flavour of how Donegal strives to be at the forefront of change.


Certificates were awarded to the group on Friday evening by Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely.  He said "The LADDER project is instrumental in putting strategies in place to allow the citizens of our countries to become informed and engaged in global issues and take actions to make a difference.  You are the people that are going to facilitate this and make it happen and I commend you for stepping up to the challenge."


Andrzej Przybylski from the Union of Rural Communes of the Republic of Poland took to the stage and on behalf of the group thanked Donegal County Council for the warm hospitality and said he along with the rest of the group would definitely return to further explore our beautiful county.


A workshop on International Cooperation also took place on Friday 17th July in the Letterkenny Council offices.  Local groups involved in active citizenship, labour and welfare issues, volunteering, youth, gender equality, civil rights, etc  were invited to come along to find out how they could benefit from working collaboratively with other EU organisations. 


Maria Ferguson from the EU Policy and Funding Unit in Donegal County Council gave an informative presentation on how  the Council targets external funding opportunities to improve quality of life and support economic recovery in Donegal.  Marco Boaria and Mattia Brazzale from ALDA gave an insight into their organisation which promotes local Governance and citizen participation at local level by activities and innovative projects.  Marco gave examples of multi-stakeholder projects which have made a real difference to the lives of the disadvantaged and spoke of the collaboration opportunities available.  Attendees included representatives from the HSE, DLDC, IDP, Foróige, Tusla, LYIT, PPN and NCCWN.  It was a hugely positive meeting with everyone inspired by the discussion.  A follow up meeting will be organised by the Social Inclusion Unit in September.


The Local Authorities as Drivers for Development   Education and Raising Awareness (LADDER) project is a collaboration of 26 partners and 20 associate partners from 18 EU and 17 non-EU Countries with ALDA The European Association for Local Democracy acting as lead partner.  Donegal County Council is one of three local authorities involved in the project, the other partners are National and Regional Associations of Local Authorities and International and National NGO networks.  The project is funded by EuropeAid and seeks to enhance and increase the action of Local Authorities in EU DEAR policies.



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