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€5M to be shared among Groups most advanced in delivering LEADER Programme

Foilsithe: 8 July 2019
Ó: Department of Rural and Community Development
Teanga: Níl leagan Gaeilge den mhír seo ar fáil.

Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development , has announced plans to distribute €5 million in additional LEADER funding. The additional funding is to be distributed amongst those Local Action Groups (LAGs) that are most advanced in their delivery of the LEADER Programme.

There are 29 separate LAGs in the country whose role it is to develop strategies and to identify, select and fund projects in their respective areas. This additional funding is being provided as a top-up to the existing budget of €220 million already available to LAGs and will facilitate the approval of a higher number of LEADER projects in counties which receive the funding.

The funding will be distributed between at least 10 of the top performing LAGs based on an assessment of the level of funding they have committed to projects and the level of funding actually drawn down by these projects. The decision will be based on the position of each LAG on 20 September 2019.

Minister Ring said he was delighted to be in a position to provide additional funding to those areas where there is a growing demand for LEADER funding:

“Some Local Action Groups have been performing very well and others need to perform better. I am keen to reward the best performers and I know that this extra funding which will greatly benefit communities in those areas.
“In the interest of fairness, I’ve decided to give LAGs until the 20 September to ensure that they are in a strong position to qualify for this funding.”
The LAGs are given the flexibility to fund a wide array of different projects with economic, social or environmental objectives delivered by both community groups and private enterprise.”

Minister Ring continued:

“I had previously indicated that additional funding would be provided to well performing LAGs and I am pleased that we are now able to deliver on this commitment. Furthermore, I will continue to monitor the performance of the Groups before deciding if a reallocation of funding between LAGs is necessary.
“Over 2,200 projects have been approved under the new LEADER programme; this year alone we have already approved almost 600 projects. It is clear that the programme is now working very well - so much so that there is a demand for additional funding in some areas.”

In the last few weeks alone, LEADER has approved funding for projects such as:

  • Obair, a community group in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare which operates a Community Crèche, Afterschool Programme, Meals on Wheels and Community Café
  • A community playground in Rockchapel village, County Cork
  • Finn Precision Engineering from Carrickmacross, County Monaghan which develops products for the aerospace and agri-food markets

A small number of LAGs will have allocated all of their available funding by the end of this year. On average, the LAGs have indicated that about 80% of their project budget will be allocated by the end of 2019, with the remainder being allocated in 2020.

Full details of how the successful LAGs will be selected will be provided shortly. The Monitoring Committee established for the purposes of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme will also be consulted before the final details are published.

The additional €5 million being allocated to the LAGs under the LEADER programme was provisionally earmarked for the delivery of a REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zones) scheme under LEADER. REDZ was introduced as a successful pilot initiative in 2015. The learning from this pilot informed the development of the Town and Village scheme in 2016 and subsequent years. The REDZ model was subsumed into the Town and Village scheme which has allocated €53 million to over 650 projects since 2016.

The LEADER programme is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs), made up of local representatives from both the public and private sector.

Funding is targeted at the priority areas identified in the Local Development Strategies developed by each LAG. These priorities come under the following themes:

1. Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation e.g. business supports and investment in rural towns

2. Social Inclusion e.g. community amenities and facilities for rural youth.

3. Rural Environment e.g. biodiversity and environmental improvement projects.

The funding includes support for costs such as:

  • Construction and fit out;
  • Machinery and equipment;
  • Marketing and promotion;
  • Training;
  • Analysis and development.

Businesses and communities interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme should, in the first instance, contact their Local Action Group. Further information regarding approved projects can be obtained from the Local Action Group in each area. Contact details for all LAGs are available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c45498-local-action-groups/.