Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh NÍ Riada has called on Minister Phil Hogan to turn back from its effort to make local authorities the new LEADER groups from 2015 and to give a commitment to support community lead LEADER programmes.
She made the call as she spoke today at a national rally, outside Leinster House, to highlight the threats posed to communities and rural development by the Government’s proposals.
“That agenda of this Government is to remove LEADER local development funding from the 35 Local Development Groups across rural Ireland, who have successfully implemented it over the past 23 years, and to put it under political management of local authorities.
“We could see a 10% reduction in funding as a penalty for deciding to place LEADER under political management. In terms of overall funding, we may well see a reduction of €30 million.
“Another deeply alarming consequence of this alignment is the prospect of public tendering and third party funding. This will allow for-profit companies and multi-nationals to apply to run the programmes. Profit will become the central aim of the services.
“This might make sense in an austerity focused government but it does not make sense in the real economy that is the people of this country.
“It is vitally important that Minister Hogan and indeed any in-coming Minister to acknowledge that this is the wrong decision. The Minister must recognise the numerous flaws with his proposals and give a firm commitment to support community led LEADER programmes.”