Liadh Ní Riada MEP meets European Commission to discuss mismanagement of LEADER
In a meeting in Brussels with members of the European Commission, Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada discussed the retrograde decision by the Irish government to abandon the bottom-up approach and lack of transparency of the selection process regarding LEADER funding.
Ní Riada said,
"Since the government abandoned the bottom-up approach to LEADER funding, a core principle of the LEADER strategy, there has been a consistent lack of clarity around the selection process.
"The Irish government in the past has refused to release details on selection, and have only released details when forced by the European Court of Auditors.
“This had caused great anxiety to rural community and voluntary organisations as the purpose of LEADER is to promote and cultivate economic development and growth in our rural communities, villages and small towns.
"Instead of LEADER funding being independently allocated to community groups, it is now decided by ´Local Community Development Committees´ (LCDCs) who are more-or-less politically controlled by local authorities, Alan Kelly still insists that the bottom-up approach still applies, that could not be further from the truth.
"It is a conflict of interest that local authorities are now the dominant decision-making partner in what is supposed to be community-led development, it is very politically expedient for those in control.
“LEADER for the last two decades has been vital lifeline for many rural communities in terms of funding and sustainable development of rural communities , and now the government has severed that lifeline for so many rural areas.
"I outlined and raised all of these issues in my recent meeting with the European Commission in Brussels yesterday and they had serious concerns as to the allocation of LEADER funding in Ireland not to mention the reluctance for meaningful transparency."