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Message from Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity


What is the Emerge Project?: Suzie Cahn, The Wheel



EM CARO and the Emerge Project: Breda Maher, Regional Executive, Eastern and Midlands Climate Action Regional Office (CARO)



The Climate Challenge and Just Transition in Ireland: Dr Lewis Evan, Urban Foresight



Questions and Answers from the EMERGE Launch Webinar (14 December)


Derry O’ Donnell, Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative.

Derry O’Donnell shares the story of Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative (ECTC). Local communities made efforts to rejuvenate the local economy by getting involved in the SEI Better Energy Community Scheme. He discusses how a cooperative of member communities with shared goals was developed and he highlights some their achievements. Since ECTC started over a decade ago, over 12 million euro has been invested in communities. Derry also answers questions relating to funding, advice for other communities and making progress on projects.

Pat Kennedy, eTownz

Pat Kennedy explains what the ‘smart villages’ approach is, and how it is being driven at European level. eTownz have developed a smart villages curriculum and are currently supporting 40 communities.
In the smart villages approach, plans are developed by focusing on smart community themes. There are several benefits to this way of working, plans are dynamic and ever evolving which makes them easy to update, they build on the structures already in place and they encourage participation. Pat also answers questions relating to funding, advice for other communities and making progress on projects.

Aoife Kirk, Irish Rural Link

Aoife Kirk gives an overview of the work of Connecting Communities with Peatlands. They are currently working on a wide range of community bog projects across the midlands providing capacity training and support. They meet community groups, find out what their needs and their interests are, offer help and advice and put these communities in touch with the relevant agencies or organisations to help them. They also set up a pilot mentoring programme.  They are seeing positive outcomes from their work – people are building their knowledge of bog projects, biodiversity and restoration work. Aoife also answers questions relating to funding, advice for other communities, and making progress on projects.

Ruth Buggy, SEAI

Ruth gives an overview of the work of the Sustainable Energy Communities Programme. She explains how they collaborate with local authorities to identify opportunities to reach our future energy targets. The SEAI informs individuals what sustainable energy solutions are available, and they also work with communities. Ruth describes how they adapted to online workshops during Covid and how there was great interest. She explains how the SEAI have some great learning resources including an excellent YouTube channel and an Energy Academy - a great way to gain knowledge for free! Ruth also answers questions relating to funding, metrics, and making progress on projects.

Patricia Frayne, Portlaoise Enterprise Centre

Patricia describes how Portlaoise Enterprise Centre opened in 2007, during the start of the recession. Their purpose is to supporting enterprise development in Portlaoise and surrounding areas. They aim to help start-up businesses and growing social enterprises.  They provide reasonably priced business accommodation including:
•    Designated desks in a shared office for workers
•    Small offices suitable for growing businesses
•    Small light industrial units – for manufacturing or service activities
•    Meeting and training rooms – for clients and external parties.
Patricia explains how there are a lot of social enterprise hubs around the country. Many also provide networking and mentoring opportunities. She also answers some questions about her work. 

Brian Kelly, Kildare Local Development Company

Brian gives an overview of the various local development programmes that the company delivers in Kildare. They also work with social enterprises in the county, offering support, training, mentoring and help with promotion. Brian highlights the work of the Leader programme. He explains that a new one is in the pipeline. The 3 main themes for the new programme are – economic development and job creation, rural infrastructure and social inclusion, and sustainable development of the rural environment. Brian also answers some questions about the work.

Roisín Greaney, TASC

Roisín provides an overview of the work of TASC, a think tank for action on social change. TASC ensure that communities around Ireland benefit from climate action. They help people primarily through their ‘people’s transition work’; this is a model that views climate action as an enabler of development. There are 3 phases to every people’s transition project; mapping, listening to the community and solution phase. Roisín describes the value of their work by highlighting one of the projects they completed called ‘Boarder Transition’. For this, TASC worked with six small communities around Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh. Roisín then answers some questions about the work.

Valerie Duffy, Moore Community Council  

Valerie explains that the goal of Moore Community Council is to ensure Moore is a safe, vibrant and peaceful place to live. They work to prevent isolation and social exclusion; they connect with sporting groups in the area and operate outreach services. They are located in between Athlone and Ballinasloe in rural Roscommon. Valerie explains that they have operated the local community hall since 1974. Their goal has been to upgrade it for future generations. She discussed the process of generating funding and upgrading the hall and describes how the finished product was worth the effort! Valerie also answers several questions about the work of Moore Community Council.

Conor Carty, Galway Rural Development  

Conor explains that Galway Rural Development are a local development company that provide a range of programmes that support the local community in Galway. Their programmes are in the areas of employee engagement, social inclusion and development, rural and community development and various upskilling programmes. Conor discusses the effect of the move to a low carbon economy on local communities. He explains that Galway Rural Development are helping communities by offering capacity building programmes such as the Leader programme. He discusses how they are supporting communities in the move away from industrial peat production to the new low carbon economy.

Lyn Donnelly, The Pulse Hub/ Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre

Lyn explains that she works with a community development company that run several economic projects and community development projects to Ballinasloe. For their economic development work, their overarching goal is to bring sustainable jobs to the area. They run Ballinasloe enterprise centre – a state of the art remote working hub. They also run a variety of community projects; including the Ballinasloe Life magazine, they have worked on revitalising the town centre. They have also set up a 10-year plan to make Ballinasloe a tourism hub. Lyn also answers some questions about the work of the company.

Linda Kelly, St. Joseph’s Community Centre, Kilcormac, Co. Offaly

Linda discusses the work of Kilcormac Development Association (KDA). She explains that their goal is to ensure the physical and economic development of the community. They Look for the gaps in the community and try and provide services to fill those gaps. For example, they are the main sponsor for the community employment scheme. They run several services including Meals on Wheels, First Responders, Community Childcare, Tidy Towns, Funeral Services and Social Services. Linda also explains how the KDA were at the forefront of the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Finally, Linda answers some questions about the work of the KDA.

Roisin Lennon, Offaly Local Development Company

Roisin discusses the work of the Offaly Local Development Company. She explains how there are 6 main areas to their work, including Rural Development, Social Inclusion, Social Enterprise, Training & Development and Employment & Business Supports. She discusses their community planning work across Offaly and outlines 2 projects they did under the Just Transition fund. Finally, Roisin also answers a question about funding applications.

Dr Graham Thrower, Urban Foresight  

Graham discusses the key trends for the climate challenge and Just Transition in Ireland. He examines how we might move Ireland to a carbon neutral economy. In particular, he explores; What is the climate challenge?, What is Just Transition?, What does Just Transition mean for Ireland?, Where are the most impacted communities?, What work is already being done? And How will EMERGE work?

Mairead O’ Connor, The Wheel  

Mairead provides an overview of the EMERGE programme. In particular, covering what communities are involved in the programme, what has been done so far and the timeline of the programme.

Peter Clancy, Lough Ree Distillery

Peter tells the story of Lough Ree Distillery. They make a range of whiskies, gins and vodkas. Their aim is to produce the finest and most highly regarded Irish spirits. Their business is doubling year on year, and they are growing the number of countries they export to all the time. They have been awarded significant Just Transition grant funding. This will allow them to scale their production, move to a new location, create a tourist offering and create more jobs. Peter also answers several questions about various aspects of the work of Lough Ree Distillery.

Ciarán Mullooly, Lough Ree Access for All

Ciarán introduces the Lough Ree Access for All Boat Service. He shows a video outlining the history of the area, looking at the people hired by Bord Na Mona in Lough Ree. An outdoor recreational tourism business was set up in Lough Ree to help re-employ those who had lost their job after the bogs were closed. Huge investment was put into developing the community’s finest resource – fishing in Lough Ree. This is a community tourism business that attracts over 10,000 visitors a year. This development was supported by the Just Transition fund.  Ciarán also answers several questions about various aspects of the work of Lough Ree Access for All.

Tristram Whyte, Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC)

Tristram discusses his involvement in the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. They work to conserve peatland in Ireland. He tells the story of the Bord Na Mona works in Ballydermot and gives some context on the history of the effort to conserve Irish bogs. As well as their conservation work, the IPCC publish a magazine twice a year to update their members on their activities. They apply for grants for various projects, and they have six nature reserves. Tristram also answers several questions about various aspects of the work of the IPCC.

Ronan Bilbow, Roscommon LEADER Partnership

Ronan explains that Roscommon Leader Partnership is an organisation that works on development projects for rural enterprise and social inclusion. These projects are done for the betterment of the people of Roscommon. Their aim is to meet and engage with communities and help support their needs. Trying to empower communities to drive the changes they wish to see.
Programmes they are involved with include Erasmus+, Rural Social Scheme, Labour Activation Scheme and the Leader programme. Ronan also answers several questions about various aspects of the work of the Roscommon LEADER Partnership.