Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was in Dundalk last week to hear from community groups operating in the town about the challenges they are facing.
Deputy McDonald was invited to the constituency by TD Ruairí Ó Murchú and met eight groups at the Redeemer Family Resource Centre in Cox’s Demesne.
Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Meenan also attended the meeting, which heard how red tape and paperwork can stall applications for funding, while there was an agreement that there is ‘creeping corporatisation’ in many of the State agencies.
Speaking after the meeting, Deputy McDonald said: "We had fantastic interaction with activists from Dundalk and Drogheda.
"We talked about community development, addiction and recovery, investing in families and young people, resilience and change.
"It has been really interesting and useful to hear stories from so many people who have been working in communities like Dundalk for a long time.
"Their work and positivity were inspiring.
"I want to thank those who met with us for their time. We have listened very carefully to what they have had to say and we know that things must change.
"We are determined that things will change so that every person living in Dundalk, Drogheda and across the island, particularly young people, will get their proper chance.
"We will invest in recovery and resilience and in the services that communities need and deserve."
Deputy Ó Murchú said it was clear from the meeting that fit for purpose services such as family support and addiction services, particularly for deprived communities, were needed.
He said: "We met with people who work at the coalface.
"They spoke about the difficulties they have in accessing funding, in interacting with the State and the failure of the entire system to deliver for people.
"Mary Lou said that if we get the opportunity to be in government, we will offer a system that delivers for people and we all need to ensure that this happens."
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