SWMDC - Putting Communities First Print

'We have to put communities first'. That was the strong message coming from Catherine Byrne TD, Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, when she visited South West Mayo Development Company's (SWMDC) Head Office in Newport on Friday, 22nd July.

Minister Byrne is welcomed by Company Chairman, Michael O'Donnell, with Company CEO, Gerry O'Neill

She met with SWMDC's Social Inclusion team, Western Region Drugs and Alcohol Education staff as well as community groups and individuals. Invited speakers included Siofra Kilcullen from Mayo County Council, Caroline Healy from Clare Island Development Company, Lisa Marie O'Malley and Peter Lynott from Mindspace Mayo, Kany Kazadi and Brian Kyne from Mayo Intercultural Action, Michael McGreal from Wild West and Angela Burke from Greenway Gifts.

Minister Byrne listens intently to one of the presentations

The Minister was struck by the 'passion' of SWMDC's staff and was 'blown away' by the breadth and quality of SWMDC's work. She spoke of the need for dedicated social inclusion programmes and staff saying 'We all make choices in life, but some people don't get much choice'. She completed her talk by commenting that it was great to 'fill my mind full of all the good work happening in communities' - SWMDC's funding is 'money well spent'.

Gerry O'Neill, CEO of South West Mayo Development Company, concluded the event by wishing the Minister well in her role and thanking her for her encouragement. SWMDC looks forward to working closely with Minister Byrne in the future and sharing its 25 years of experience and learnings to support future community development.

Minister Byrne pictured with SWMDC staff and Company Chairman, Michael O'Donnell