An international community development conference was held in Maynooth
on November 16th with speakers attending from Russia, Scotland, Australia, Holland, Liberia, Belgium and Ireland.
Around 170 people took part and the event was oversubscribed. “It wasn’t all about programmes and structures for change,” said one participant, “but about taking time to think about the need for community development today to bring about social change.”
Capitalism was widely criticised for the way it creates an underclass of people across the world. Dr Peter Westoby from Australia spoke about “going back” to really listen to communities and their real needs.
Rappateur for the day, Ann Irwin, commented afterwards saying people were asking if now was an opportunity for community development to reassert itself. “What struck me was the similarities the world over with community development being undervalued.”
She said Ireland was seen as “one of the frontrunners internationally in community development and participants from abroad were shocked at the changes in recent years here.” Ms Irwin said community development was now structurally part of local development and that the two were not the same.
The conference was organised by the Maynooth’s Department of Applied Social Studies, in association with the Community Workers Co-operative and the European Community Development Network. The conference was held in conjunction with celebrations to mark 30 years of community work, education and training at NUI Maynooth.