LEADER funding worth €14 million approved to date

Over 500 projects – to the tune of €14 million – have been fully approved for LEADER funding across the country, according to the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, earlier today.

In total there are now 531 projects approved for LEADER funding of over €14 million. This compares to 45 projects approved in the first half of the year, according to the minister.

LEADER is a key programme for delivery under the government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, according to the minister.

Commenting on the programme, Minister Ring said: “I am delighted to see that the LEADER project approval process is now working more effectively and that almost 100 projects are being approved each month.

“There was a slow start to the new programme as new systems were put in place. However, the changes I have introduced to simplify the project approval process are beginning to take effect and I expect that these changes will have an even bigger impact in 2018.

I want to commend the local action groups, local authorities and local development companies for their positive engagement in recent months and for their suggestions as to how the procedures could be simplified.

“My department is committed to delivering on their suggestions – 31 actions in total – and the majority of these have already been implemented.

“The list of approved projects clearly demonstrates the strength of LEADER in addressing diverse rural needs and supporting both large and small projects.

“I was especially pleased to note that the 500th project approved was for the New Ross Men’s Shed which was allocated over €60,000 by the Wexford LEADER Local Action Group for the construction of new facilities to meet their expanding needs.

The contribution which men’s sheds have made to the health and well-being of men across Ireland in a short space of time is remarkable and I’m glad to see LEADER making a contribution to their success.

The minister added: “While I am pleased with the progress in approving LEADER projects, I will be pushing the local action groups and their partners to step up the pace of approvals further in 2018.

“This will be particularly important in the case in those local action groups with low levels of approvals relative to their counterparts.

“I am delivering on my commitment to simplify the LEADER programme for project applicants and for local action groups, and I want to see the benefits of these changes having an impact across every area of the country in 2018,” Minister Ring concluded.