Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has hit out at the Environment Minister Phil Hogan for blocking essential Rural Development Funding (LEADER) for community and employment in Donegal and across rural Ireland.
Raising the matter in the Seanad this week, the Fianna Fáil Senator said, “Local development companies such as the DLDC in Donegal, which administer the Leader Programme, have recently received instructions Department of the Environment to stop approving funding for local projects.
“This is despite the fact that Minister Hogan has admitted to Fianna Fáil that less than more than two thirds of the funding provided under the Leader Programme has not been spent to date. Only €82 million of the expected final allocation of €296 million has been spent so far. The total value of commitments made under the scheme amounts to €183 million, leaving an expected surplus of €100 million by the end of this year.
“This funding is essential for the growth and development of rural areas across the North West. It would be farcical if such a huge proportion of it went to waste. It makes no sense that the Minister would block the Donegal Local Development Company and others from proceeding with new projects when only a third of the Leader allocation has been spent to date.
“The Minister’s handling of the Leader Programme has been appalling and in my view, it further signifies the Government’s lack of interest in supporting rural Ireland and the North West in particular. This latest blow follows the Minister’s refusal to allow Gaeltacht communities to avail of funding under Leader for a period of 15 months from September 2011.
“The Leader Programme is due to end this year and all projects funded under the scheme must be completed by the end of 2015. In light of this, the Minister must immediately lift his embargo on funding allocations under the scheme to ensure that communities here in Donegal and across the country can get the full benefit of the Leader programme.”
Posted: Mar 13, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized