LEADER ‘the ideal vehicle’ to bolster rural Ireland with EU recovery funding

The government has been called on to utilise the €190 million available to Ireland under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for LEADER purposes.

The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) has urged Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, and Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys “to consider availing of the €190 million Covid-19 EU Recovery Instrument available for Rural Development in 2021 and 2022 for the purposes of bolstering the LEADER Programme”.

The European Union Recovery Instrument (EURI) is a fund established by the European Union to support recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The funding was agreed as part of NextGeneration EU, which got the green light from Europe in December.

€190 million is to be allocated to Ireland from the €8 billion instrument over the period 2021-2022 for agriculture and rural development.

LEADER provides rural communities across the European Union with the resources to enable local partners to actively engage and direct the local development of their area, through community-led local development.

The ILDN represents the 35 Local Development Companies (LDCs) who deliver the LEADER Programme nationally.

Commenting, ILDN chairman Jim Finn said:

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

By allocating a portion of the EU recovery funding available to Ireland to the LEADER Programme, the government can maximise drawdown of the available fund, deliver critical stimulus to rural areas to help drive the post-Covid recovery and meet the expectations of the EU in terms of the requirements of the recovery instrument.

“By fully utilising the funds available under the recovery instrument for the purposes of LEADER in 2021/2022, the government can also maximise the future LEADER programme for the period 2023-2027.”

This would ensure a “sustainable level of funding for the purposes of rural development across the decade”, Finn concluded.