Speaking in the Seanad recently, Mayo Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has accused Minister Ring of trying to create the illusion of new funding for rural Ireland while robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The Sinn Féin senator said: “Minister Ring has loudly proclaimed himself as the man to get rural Ireland back on an even keel with the rest of the country in terms of funding. Most importantly he says he has the influence to secure the hard cash urgently needed to fund schemes. The LEADER programme has proved vital in empowering communities and was working well until increased central interference.
“The supposed increase of €5 million in funding to LEADER in this year‘s budget hides the fact that €10 million was diverted from the €40 million due to LEADER and put into local improvement schemes. This year’s much heralded increase in LEADER funding still leaves it €5 million short of the €40 million promised in Budget 2017.”
“I welcome any increase to funding for the local improvement scheme. It is desperately needed for the hundreds of roads in dire need of repair. LIS funding was initially announced at the Ploughing Championship last month with the Taoiseach stating ‘it is only right and fair that some of the motor tax, excise duty on fuel and local property tax paid by people in rural areas is invested in the repair of shared laneways. What he did not say is ‘We are again moving the deck chairs because rural Ireland does not deserve investment.”'