Dáil debates

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Offshore Islands

11:50 am

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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91. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if it is intended to have a special local action group for islands under the new LEADER programme, as there was previously up to 2013; if not, the reason, in view of the stated importance the Government gives to island development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44889/22]

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Until 2013, there was a very successful local action group operating the LEADER companies across the islands because, as the Minister said in her response to previous questions, the islands are unique. That changed in 2018 when the islands lost LAG status, but Comhar na nOileán still managed to run the project in Donegal and the Beara Peninsula, including the Cork islands. I understand that under the new arrangements, it is going to get even worse and the comhar will be totally excluded from any involvement in the LEADER programme. That is a disgrace. What will the Minister do to change this situation before it is too late?

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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As is the case with the current LEADER programme, the subregional areas for the new programme will correspond with county boundaries. This alignment will help to ensure coherence of LEADER funding with other initiatives and policies delivered on a county basis, thus helping to deliver the best impact and value for money under LEADER. The county structure also allows for the most efficient allocation of funding across the country. The offshore islands will continue to be aligned with their relevant subregional area and a separate Island LAG will not form part of the LEADER delivery model.

However, I am aware that island communities have particular needs and priorities and, within the context of the emerging programme, they can play a key role in delivering on those needs. In recognition of this, a number of important elements will be included in the model for the new programme.

Any LAG selected in an area that includes island communities will be required to identify specific actions developed in consultation with the island communities themselves in its LEADER strategy and to include an indicative budget to implement such actions. In addition, a representative of the island grouping in each subregional area must be included in the decision-making body of the LAG. I assure the Deputy that the important contribution island communities make to rural and island development has been considered in the design of the new LEADER programme and I am confident this programme can continue to make a real contribution to island communities in the years to come.

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Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.