Sinn Féin spokesperson on Rural and Community Development and the Islands, Claire Kerrane TD, today called on the government to address falling levels of LEADER funding.
In October, Minister Humphries announced €180m indicative LEADER funding for rural communities post-2023, with just €70m available for 2021-23 transition period.
Recent responses to Parliamentary Questions have confirmed a consistent decrease in allocations of LEADER funding to rural communities across the state.
Organisations such as the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) have also advised that funding cuts will have significant impacts on community-led local development in rural areas.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“Last month we heard the Minister announce €250m in LEADER funding for rural communities from 2021-2023 to great fanfare.
“However, the reality is that this funding is made up of €70m already allocated as part of the LEADER Transitional Programme for 2021-2023, and €180m indicative funding for 2023-2027.
“That works out at €35m per year, which means there is no increase in LEADER funding on the previous period.
“Recent figures from the Department show that LEADER funding has stagnated in comparison with the previous period, when €250m was allocated for 2014-2020.
“As well as this, LEADER funding has dropped significantly since the 2007-2013 period, when over €376m was allocated for LEADER.
“That means the indicative LEADER funding allocation from now until 2027 is 33% less than funding for the 2007-2013 period.
“This is a blow for rural areas, who rely on the LEADER programme to support community-led local development.
“I understand that many local action groups (LAGs) had hoped to secure greater funding to ensure they can deliver these vital programmes in rural communities.
“Any drop in funding will have a major impact on the ability of LAGS to support development in their communities.
“We have heard calls from the ILDN for sustainable funding allocations for LEADER programming, to drive ‘bottom-up, community-led’ investment in rural communities.
“I am calling on Minister Humphries to provide greater additional funding for LEADER and LEADER Transitional Programmes for 2021-2027, to ensure that rural communities can thrive.”