The increased allocation of €70 million in funding for the LEADER programme for 2021 and 2022 has been welcomed by the local development companies which will be delivering the programme.

The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), which represents the 35 local development companies in Ireland, welcomed the announcement which came from government yesterday (Friday, March 12).

The funding – which is up some €50 million on the €20 million earmarked for the programme in December – was by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Welcoming the announcement, ILDN chairman Jim Finn outlined its previous calls on the government to utilise funding available from the EU for Rural Development, for LEADER, adding:

As the deliverers of LEADER across the country we are greatly encouraged by today’s announcement of an increased allocation of €70 million to the end of 2022.

Meanwhile, ILDN rural development chairman Éamonn O’Reilly said:

“The LEADER Programme offers the ideal vehicle for the delivery of development funding to rural areas in the most effective manner.

“The allocation of this increased funding will deliver critical stimulus to rural areas to help drive the post Covid-19 recovery.

Furthermore the funding announced today will ensure that more vital projects in the areas of climate change, digital transformation, remote working and enterprise development can be progressed in our rural communities throughout the country.

These projects, he said, will enable the country to “meet the expectations of the EU in terms of the requirements of its recovery funding criteria”.