Public meetings to be held about changes to LEADER programme

Community leaders and business people have called on Mayo’s TDs, senators, and councillors to provide clear information regarding the changes under review to the LEADER – Rural Development Programme.

Putting People First is Minister Phil Hogan’s plan to radically change how the LEADER/Rural Development Programme will be delivered in the future. He is proposing that local authority-led structures should take over the programme across Ireland. This will seriously threaten the future of groups such as South West Mayo Development Company (SWMDC ), a community-led not-for-profit local development organisation providing funding, supports, and training to communities and individuals throughout south and west Mayo.

Following requests from community groups and local business people in south and west Mayo, two public meetings will take place in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, on Monday April 8 at 8pm and the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport, on Monday April 15 at 8pm.

“These changes will have far reaching consequences for people and communities hoping to benefit from LEADER support in the future. People are very concerned that the Minister’s plans will needlessly change a successful structure that has worked for over 20 years. These meetings are an opportunity for people to hear what will happen if these changes go ahead and to have their say,” said SWMDC chairman Michael Biggins.

Seán Staunton, a former local councillor and former member of the SWMDC board, said he was shocked at the lack of thinking behind proposals to re-assign authority, responsibility, and funding from LEADER companies to county council-led structures.

All are encouraged to attend the public meetings in Claremorris and Westport, to have their say and influence the future of rural development in Ireland. For more information, contact SWMDC, Newport Office on 098 41950, see www.southmayo.com or find it on Facebook.

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