is a partnership of voluntary,
community and statutory bodies based
in Connemara, with the objective of putting in
place strategies and programmes to tackle the problem
of rural decline and peripherality.
FORUM has a long history of development in Connemara having been established in 1989 by Connemara West as one of the model action projects under the Poverty Three Programme (1989-1994). After the success of this programme in 1994 FORUM received core funding under the Community Development Programme and began to implement a number of other programmes on behalf of various state agencies.
In 2006/2007, negotiations, discussions and research between key stakeholders, local and central government, concluded that FORUM was well placed to deliver the Rural Development Programme for that area of Galway known as non-Gaeltacht Connemara. From the period 2009-2016 FORUM implemented the successful delivery of nearly €5 million in funding.
In 2016 FORUM submitted a Local Development Strategy for the whole Connemara region including the off-shore islands and was awarded the contract for the delivery of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (LEADER).
This strategy is a robust, imaginative and innovative plan, embedded in the culture, resources, strengths and needs of Connemara.
FORUM also co-ordinates an Adolescent Support Programme, three Community Employment Schemes (CE), one FAS Job Initiative Scheme (JI), one Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and four Tús programmes.
Even though the funding landscape has changed and continues to change, particularly over the last number of years. FORUM will continue to pursue programmes, schemes and funding that will further the main aims of the organisation and the development of the Connemara region.
To this end FORUM will continue to promote, assist and engage in, social development, enterprise development to facilitate rural regeneration and community development, designed to benefit and promote the welfare of the local communities or to deal with the causes and consequences of social and economic disadvantage or poverty.
FORUM will persist with a 'bottom-up' approach to development based on the principles of collaboration, partnership and stakeholder engagement.
The catchment area covered by FORUM faces many challenges and opportunities
in terms of realising sustainable
development objectives over the coming years.
Much of the territory is structurally weak, with poor connectivity, a low level of demographic vitality and a narrow economic base.
Structural weaknesses are most profound in the south, north, west and centre of the territory,
where there is a high level of dependence on small-scale farming/fishing and seasonal employment.
The east of the territory, which includes the town of Oughterard, represents the fringe of an expanding peri-urban zone around Galway city and faces a different set of challenges.
However the territory also has a unique, valuable physical environment allied with a strong sense of identity and culture.