THE importance of Leader funding to communities in County Clare is set to be raised with the European Commission.
The EU rural development fund supports community and economic development in towns, villages and rural areas across Europe. The rollout of the 2014-2020 programme has still not been announced by the Department of the Environment.
Speaking from Strasbourg, Liadh Ní Riada, MEP, said the funding must be made available to communities.
“The Leader programme delivers much-needed investment to community projects and small businesses outside of our big cities. It is a vital support for so many projects that drive local economies and improve the quality of life in rural Ireland.
“Many community projects are ready to proceed with projects and have been waiting for almost two years for this funding to come on stream.
“The preparation for the 2014-2016 programme have been marked by confusion, mismanagement and silence from government.
“It’s not even clear what organisations will be delivering the programme in local areas. Under previous programmes, local development companies had the responsibility for managing the fund in their respective areas but under chaotic reforms brought in by Phil Hogan, local authorities will have the final say.
“Many local development companies, having built up strong experience and valuable working relationships, now face uncertain futures. The indecision of the outgoing environment minister and the inability of the two largest parties to form a government add to the problem. I will be raising this issue with the European Commission in order to ascertain when exactly this vital source of funding will be available to local communities.”