Dáil debates

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Rural Schemes

4:05 pm

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising this issue here today.

The LEADER programme has been a very successful initiative for 30 years in Ireland. I am in no doubt that there is real value in the continued support for bottom-up locally-led initiatives that address the needs of communities all across the country and this is the hallmark of the LEADER approach. In fact, this direct link to local communities is also central to the mission of my Department and to Government's vision for rural Ireland, as outlined in Our Rural Future.

Local development companies play a central role in delivering LEADER and a range of other rural development and community initiatives run by my Department and the benefits of this role are well recognised. In recognition of this, the Government has committed to continue the support for the LEADER programme by way of the allocation of €250 million over the period 2021-2027. LEADER will thus continue to be a vital component of a well-funded CAP strategic plan in the coming years.

As preparations continue for the development of the CAP and LEADER programme, I can assure the Deputy that direct and meaningful consultation with the key stakeholders will form a central part of that process. Following on from a recent national consultation process on the CAP strategic plan which was launched by my Government colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, it is intended that a draft of the plan would be submitted to the EU Commission early in the new year. There will then follow a process of intense negotiation and discussion with our colleagues in the EU Commission in order to finalise the details of all the schemes in the strategic plan, including LEADER. Stakeholders such as the ILDN which are central to LEADER delivery will continue to be consulted with as this process develops.

I am confident that our new CAP strategic plan will deliver real and meaningful support to communities across rural Ireland. Within this, the significant national and EU funding which has been allocated to LEADER will ensure that we can build on the benefits that LEADER has delivered all over Ireland in the past 30 years. I am confident that the new LEADER programme will continue to build on the great work of the past 30 years and play a central role in delivering on the Government's vision for rural Ireland, as set out in Our Rural Future.

I will take the Deputy's question about her constituency back to the Minister, Deputy Humphreys.


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