Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht, and Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has described the new Leader programme as an absolute shambles and a bureaucratic nightmare.
The latest scheme was launched in 2014, but almost three and a half years later and there has been no project expenditure to date.
Deputy Ó Cuív said that it was almost inconceivable that no money has been spent on approved Leader projects more than three and a half years after the new programme was rolled out.
“It is a damning indictment of the department and the completely ineffective way that it is being run. Despite the fact that a substantial amount of money has been provided for Leader this year, I am led to believe that only a fraction of that funding will actually be spent on projects this year as it usually takes a number of months for this money to be drawn down once it is approved.
“The new Leader programme is an absolute shambles and a bureaucratic nightmare. There are up to 18 stages involved in the assessment process as well as endless red tape as the European Union, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pobal, LDCs, and local groups are all involved in the approval process, even for very small grants.
“Minister Humphreys needs to completely overhaul the Leader programme structure to ensure that all of the money can be spent expeditiously and that the unnecessary layers of bureaucracy can be removed,” he said