The Dáil will this week debate a Fianna Fáil motion calling for the full protection of the LEADER scheme and funding for local LEADER companies in Mayo and across the country. Mayo based Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has called on Mayo’s four Fine Gael deputies to stand up for community development companies in Mayo, and ensure that funding is protected when changes kick in next month that will see existing programmes integrated with programmes due to begin in 2015.
Calleary said: “The LEADER programme is vital for the development of local enterprise and for sustaining local jobs. Local community development companies play a central role in our local services in Co Mayo, from transport to childcare to youth development and rural development. Nationally, approximately 1,900 people are directly employed in the sector and thousands more jobs are supported by the schemes involved. Approximately €50 million is due to be spent on these programmes in 2014. We need to ensure that all existing programmes continue to be supported in full when the Government’s plans kick in next month to integrate them under local authorities with new programmes due to begin next year.”
The Ballina based TD went on to say: “The Government’s failure to engage in any meaningful consultation on this new local authority structure for LEADER programmes is very regrettable. It’s also disappointing that we have yet to see any commitment to sustaining the 50/50 co-financing of LEADER companies. The Government must hold up its end of the bargain by matching EU funding for rural development in this country. This week in the Dáil the Government has an opportunity to stand up for community development programmes in Mayo and across rural Ireland. I am urging our four Government TDs in Mayo to commit to continuing to support and fund our LEADER companies. I am also looking for a commitment that these LEADER companies will be used as a one top shop to deliver our rural services in Mayo.”