A number of councillors at the Belmullet Electoral Area Committee on Tuesday expressed their hope that LEADER funding that was previously provided by Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG ) would soon be back on stream. The calls came as the members were informed that the first two years of funding from the separate Communuity Gain Investment Fund is about to be allocated by Mayo County Council. That €8 millon fund is paid for by the developers of the Corrib Gas project as an obligation of their planning permission. However, councillors are concered that groups who are awarded this funding would not draw it down, as they are waiting to see whether they will also get funding from applications they made to MFG before it was closed two years ago so they can combine the funding to complete projects.
Declan Turnbull from the Community and Enterprise section of Mayo County Council told the members that 130 applications had been made and the 130 groups were looking for around €20 million in funding. There were seven different headings under which applications were available for groups. He said it has taken quite a lot of work to get to the stage where they are now, and hopefully by the end of October the first two years of the five year funding cycle will be allocated.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael McNamara told the meeting: “I welcome the news on the funding nearing completion, but there are a lot of community groups who have applied and might be approved but they won’t draw down the funding because they are waiting for matching or other funding to come through after they had applied to the MFG before it was shut down two years ago.” Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh supported Cllr McNamara’s assertion, but said she believed there was work going on to ensure that the live applications were being dealt with by Mayo South West Development Company now for the Achill and Ballycroy areas, with the North East Development Company taking on the other areas. But she said that while she had been told this was happening there had been very little action and she wanted to see “the wheels move a lot quicker than they are in this area”.