Wexford Senator Michael D'Arcy has welcomed a funding package of €250 million for the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 announced by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD.
“Investment in the LEADER programme is of huge significance to Wexford. EU regulations stipulate that 5% of the Rural Development Programme must be allocated to LEADER but the fact that the Government has increased its proportion to 7% confirms our commitment to the economic development of rural areas such as those here in Wexford.
“Due to the new Local Government Reform Act 2014, this money will be controlled at a local level and therefore the allocation of resources will be much more targeted, cost effective and efficient. Streamlining operations at a local level should maximise the funding available to support important projects and the local communities in Wexford.”
“The Government has been working through the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) to identify areas where LEADER intervention is needed. I know in Wexford there are any number of projects where funding is needed and would be of huge benefit. We need jobs, we need broadband, we need training for the people of Wexford and we need to invigorate our building trade.
“The LEADER programme is all about community led projects; it is focused on making the recovery local. Once approval for the programme has been given by the European Commission, Local Action Groups of Wexford will be invited to submit ideas for how funding should be spent. These groups will be set up in accordance with the EU Regulations and will consist of representatives across public and private socio-economic interests.
“We are committed to empowering rural Ireland, to giving the local people of Wexford the opportunity to identify where the LEADER programme funding should go and in controlling the allocation at a local level.
“Committing 7% of the RDP rather than the required 5% is indicative of the importance of rural Ireland to this Government. The Recovery is happening but there is no doubt that its effects have yet to be fully felt in rural Ireland. More needs to be done to invigorate and revitalise areas outside of the capital and our larger cities; the LEADER funding is vital to realising our goal of bringing jobs, stability and growth to all areas of Ireland.