Concerns that Leader funding int eh region may be cut by €87 million has beenn raised by Donegal Senator, Brian O Domhnaill.
Details on the level of funding that will be available from the State for the new Leader Programme 2014 - 2020 to co-fund the moneys available under the European Commission proposals were sought in the Upper House by the Donegal Fianna Fail Senator O’Domhnaill.
He said it was his understanding that the new Leader programme will involve 54% of EU funding which will require 46% of national funding to be secured. That will mean a cut in the region of €87 million to Leader funding.
Overall funding has been reduced
“Overall funding has been reduced from €370 million from €283 million under the current Leader programme,” he said. “That amounts to a cut of approximately 23%. I hope that is not the case and that the Minister will clarify what discussions are taking place, what level of funding will be put in place and what efforts are being made. The funding comes under the remit of the Common Agricultural Policy. While I appreciate that it is a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and that is the Department engaged in the negotiations, the reason I raise the issue is because the Leader programme comes within the remit of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.”
Concern has been expressed by local development companies around the country at the proposed alignment process by which Leader funding will come under the remit of local authorities, he said.
Minister Hogan’s response to O Domhnaill
In reply, the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan said Ireland has agreed with the European Union funding to the value of €2.1 billion for the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
“The governing EU regulations provide that a minimum allocation of 5% of that funding goes to the Leader programme,” he said. “The Government has decided to increase that to 7%, which I welcome. Therefore, €153 million in EU funding will be available to Leader during 2014 to 2020 and will be co-financed by Exchequer funding. The Senator is correct that the level of co-financing has yet to be determined. Discussions are ongoing with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the matter. Following conclusion of the discussions I will be in a position to announce the overall value of the Leader elements of the programme. The discussions are not yet completed but they are likely to be completed in April.”