Government in the dock over Hogan's LEADER debacle - Ó Clochartaigh
Speaking in the Seanad today, Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh revealed that the Irish government is being quizzed by the EU over the debacle caused by former Minister Phil Hogan's dismantling of the local development sector.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh says that the Commission have sent the Irish government a list of over 400 questions in relation to their proposed changes to the delivery of the LEADER programme, an EU initiative to support rural development projects at local level.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh stated:
“I asked Minister Phelan if she was aware of the questions being asked by the Commission of the Irish government, if she would outline those concerns to us and whether she would ask her colleague Minister Alan Kelly to reverse the changes proposed by Hogan and rectify the situation.
“The way the LEADER companies are being treated is Rural Regression as oppose to rural development. It takes the autonomy away from local stakeholders to develop projects in a way they see fit, using their expertise and local knowledge and empowering them to build their own communities. The whole process is being hijacked by local authorities starved of funding who see LEADER as a slush fund to cover the pet projects they want to develop.
“It is ironic that Ireland are held up in Europe as a model of international best practice in LEADER delivery and that other member states are copying our present model of delivery, while this government are dismantling the sector and moving to a more centralised and less democratic model. It's disgraceful and must be reversed.