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LEADER delay is holding rural development back

12 March, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP


Speaking from Strasbourg today, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said that the announcement of county allocations for the LEADER rural development programme was another attempt by Government to exert control over the scheme, and spoke of the harm that delays in making funding available is causing to vital local development efforts.

Liadh Ní Riada said:

“Phil Hogan’s oddly-titled ‘Putting People First’ document set out a blueprint for imposing central Government control over, amongst other things, the LEADER rural development programme.

“The announcement of county allocations before local development strategies have been decided upon is unprecedented, premature and effectively puts local groups in a straightjacket. This effort is another attempt by the Department of Environment to take control of LEADER from the community. Previously allocations were made on merit, as measured against agreed criteria. This move towards a pre-ordained allocation, before expressions of interests have even been made, undermines the local development strategies that are so central to the LEADER programme.

“Alan Kelly and Ann Phelan’s announcement is disingenuous in the extreme. The allocation of money is not only premature in that it undermines the ability of local groups to define a development strategy according to their areas needs; it is also premature because it is highly unlikely that LEADER funding will come on stream late this year or early 2016.

“The delay is due to the ham-fisted attempts by Phil Hogan to undermine local community-led groups and give control of the European development funding to local authority managers. Alan Kelly exacerbated the mess, and his unwillingness to depart from Hogan’s plan has meant censure from Europe and huge delays as his Department lurches from one disaster to another.

“I am also deeply concerned about the methodology employed in allocating the funds. The announcement gave no indication as to how the Department arrives at these figures. The funds allocated to County Cork, for example, are down approximately 70% on the last allocation.

“Many local development companies are in danger of closing their doors while they await funding, and workers are on short-time or protective notice. The games and announcements are holding rural development back and threatening jobs, enterprise and social inclusion across the country.

“Local development companies, with their bottom-up community-led ethos are the appropriate vehicles for LEADER funding, and they must be given the space to do their important work.

Moill i dtaobh maoiniú LEADER ad déanamh díobháil d’fhorbairt tuaithe

Ag labhairt dó ó Strasbourg inniu, dúirt an Feisire Eorpach Shinn Féin Liadh Ní Riada go bhfuil leithdháiltí contae don chlár forbartha tuaithe LEADER iarracht eile ón Rialtas smacht a chothú ar an scéim. Labhair sí comh maith ar an dochar a bhfuil á dhéanamh ag moileanna leanúnacha I dtaobh maoiniú ar iarrachtaí forbartha áitiúla ríthábhachtach.

Liadh Ní Riada dúirt:

"Leag doiciméad ‘Putting People First’ le Phil Hogan treoirphlean amach chun smacht a chuir ar an gclár forbartha tuaithe LEADER, maraon le rudaí eile.

“Is modh oibre gan fasach agus réamhaibí é na leithdháiltí contae a fhógairt roimh straiéisí forbartha áitiúla a bheith chuirthe le chéile. Cuireann an fógra seo na grúpaí áitiúla i gcruachás. Is iarracht eile í seo ón Roinn Comhshaoil ​​smacht LEADER a ghlacadh ón bpobal. Roimhe seo déantar na leithdháiltí ar bhonn an fhiúntais, arna thomhas i gcoinne critéar aontaithe. Cuireann an bogadh seo i dtreo leithdháileadh réamh-beartaithe, isteach ar na straitéisí forbartha áitiúla atá chomh lárnach don chlár LEADER, fiú sula bhfuil na léirithe spéise déanta.

"Tá fogra Alan Kelly agus Ann Phelan go hiomlán mí-ionraic. Ní hamháin go bhfuil an leithdháileadh réamhaibí sa mhéid is gur chuireann sé isteach ar cumas na ngrúpaí áitiúla straitéis forbartha a shainiú de réir a réimsí riachtanais; tá sé roimh am freisin toisc nach mbeidh maoiniú LEADER ag teacht i bhfeidhm go dtí déanach i mbliana nó go luath i 2016.

"Is iad iarrachtaí liopasta Phil Hogan smacht a thógáint ó ghrúpaí faoi stiúir an phobail áitiúil agus é a thabhairt do bhainisteoirí údarás áitiúil atá mar chúis leis na moilleanna. Rinne Alan Kelly níos measa an praiseach, agus de dheasca a dhrogall air imeacht ó phlean Hogan, tá an rialtas cáinte ag an Eoraip.

"Tá imní orm chomh maith mar gheall ar an mhodheolaíocht a úsáideadh chun an leithdháileadh a dhéanamh. Níor thug an fógra aon tásc maidir leis an gcaoi a tháinig an Roinn ar na figiúirí seo. I gContae Chorcaí, mar shampla, tá laghdú thart fá 70% ar an leithdháileadh roimhe seo.

"Tá go leor comhlachtaí forbartha áitiúla i mbaol dúnadh a doirse le linn fanacht leis an maoiniú, agus tá oibrithe ar ghearr-ama nó fógra cosanta. Na cluichí agus fógraí ag chuir bac ar fhorbairt tuaithe, ar phoist, fiontraíochta agus cuimsiú sóisialta ar fud na tíre.

"Is iad na comhlachtaí forbartha áitiúla, lena n-éiteas faoi stiúir an phobail ó bhun aníos na feithiclí oiriunach le haghaidh mhaoiniú LEADER, agus ní mór iad a chosaint chun a gcuid oibre tábhachtach a dhéanamh.

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