Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Rural and Community Development

LEADER Programmes

Photo of Claire KerraneClaire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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270. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the grant aid for LEADER programmes available to private individual projects based on islands; her plans to increase funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23474/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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LEADER is a rural development programme co-funded by the EU which operates a locally led, bottom-up, approach to meeting the needs of local communities and businesses. The programme supports private enterprises and community groups in rural areas including the islands.

The programme is delivered to the off-shore islands by the Donegal, Mayo and West Cork LAGs through its Implementing Partner, Comhar na nOileán CTR, while the Galway West LAG, Forum Connemara CLG, covers the Islands off the coast of County Galway.

In December 2020, I launched the Transitional LEADER Programme which came into effect from 1 April 2021 and will run to the end of 2022. A total of €70 million is being made available over this programming period. €65 million of this budget is available to Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme and approve projects at local level. This allocation covers both core project expenditure and the administration costs of the LAGs.

The funding distributed between the LAGs is on a pro-rata basis, commensurate with the allocations made at the start of the 2014-2020 LEADER programme.

A further €3 million of the funding is being allocated to support Co-operation projects and innovation between LAGs, while the remaining €2 million is being provided to support strategy development for the next LEADER programme. Further funding opportunities under the LEADER Food Initiative remain in place until the entirety of funds are exhausted.

In December 2020, I also approved an increase in the rate of aid for private enterprises, including those on the islands, and commercial community projects, from a maximum of 50% to a maximum of 75% for projects approved on or after the 1 April 2021.

This increased rate of aid will help stimulate the rural economy and sustain jobs within rural and Island communities, particularly in a post-COVID recovery scenario.


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