It's the social economy stupid…

Tom Kelly kicks of his Irish News column this week with a comparative analysis of the contrasting ways in which both parts of Ireland spent their respective windfalls from the European Union.

The EU generously gave us millions to capacity-build the social economy and to what end? Compared to the north, the Republic got roughly one third of EU funds made available but they built a real economy creating jobs and opportunity. We preferred the less travelled road of building an inter-community infrastructure around what is not there. Despite spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on community relations, we have ended up more polarised than ever before.

He singles out the voluntary sector for particular attention:

Of course, the burgeoning industry that is the voluntary sector know only too well how to keep the funds flowing into wasteful programmes but in reality it’s time to get serious about community relations and even more serious about what we want to achieve.