Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate for Longford, Cllr Joe Flaherty has criticized the Department of Rural and Community Development for failing to spend allocated LEADER funding. Cllr Flaherty was commenting as information obtained by Fianna Fáil shows that just 9% of the LEADER funding allocated to Co. Longford has been spent to date.
Cllr Flaherty explained, “The purpose of LEADER is to provide rural communities with the resources to actively engage in community-led local development. Historically, it has been extremely successful in revitalizing rural areas but the roll-out of funding under the current programme is hampering communities.
"In 2014 the Fine Gael-led Government not only reduced LEADER funding from €400 million to €250 million but they also decided to tie the scheme in knots, undermining it with huge bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape. This is evidenced through the fact that to date, 86% of funding nationally has been spent on administration costs.
"We are now into year six of a seven year funding programme, yet just €690,735 of Longford’s total allocation of €7,597,623 has been spent to date. Questions need to be answered as to why so little of this funding has made its way to the communities that need it most?
"This is damaging to rural communities, it is another example of a Government which is treating rural Ireland with indifference", concluded Cllr Flaherty.
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