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LEADER funding must be increased to support rural communities – Claire Kerrane TD and Chris MacManus MEP

13 December, 2021 - by Chris MacManus MEP

LEADER funding must be increased to support rural communities – Claire Kerrane TD and Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin representatives, Claire Kerrane TD and Chris MacManus MEP, have today called on the government to ensure additional funding for the LEADER Programme. They were speaking following the ILDN’s call for a reversal of cuts to rural development funding.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Rural Development and the Islands, Teachta Kerrane, said:

“Given the emphasis on the important role LEADER play in the development of rural communities in the governments' Our Rural Future plan, stand-still funding of €250 million for the period 2021-2027 falls short. 

“If we remove the Transitional period funding of €70m which has already been allocated for 2021-2022, indicative figures tells us that funding for LEADER for 2023-2027 will be just €180 million across five years. 

“The current proposed funding for LEADER undermines the future viability of rural-based Local Action Groups (LAGs). Any drop in funding will have a major impact on their ability to support development in their communities.”

“When I raised this matter with the Minister in the Dáil earlier this week, she gave no indication that she is intending on increasing LEADER funding for the coming period. This is despite her acknowledging the incredibly important work that LAGs carry out in their local communities.

“If the contribution from the State is not re-considered then rural communities will be impacted when it comes to funding and supports for community-led development, as well as enterprise and tourism. We acknowledge calls from the ILDN in this respect of this and would request that the level of funding be re-considered.”

Speaking on the issue, Sinn Féin MEP for Midlands Northwest, Chris MacManus, said:

“Over the past few weeks I have met with a number of Local Development Companies across my constituency and have listened to their concerns regarding the next period of LEADER funding. 

“Each of them highlighted to me that €180 million across five years falls far short of what is needed and will greatly restrict their ability to support rural communities.”

“LEADER is a vital programme for rural communities as it provides  individuals and community groups with greater decision-making responsibilities around the future development and direction of their local area. It helps to revitalise rural society by creating greater employment opportunities at local level and builds strong social cohesion and collaboration within rural communities.”

“It is a hugely important programme for our rural communities, many of which would be lacking in basic facilities without it. Given its importance the proposed budget is deeply disappointing.”

MacManus concluded by pledging his party’s ongoing support to the sector, “I would like to commend the ILDN for highlighting this issue and putting forward proposals on how this should be addressed. Sinn Féin will continue to make the case for the level of funding to be enhanced so that Local Development Companies can continue their excellent work in supporting rural communities.” ENDS

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