Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Rural, Community, and Gaeltacht Affairs and Party Deputy Leader, Dara Calleary TD, says the government must immediately clarify why there was such a large rejection rate of applications to the 2019 Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

Latest figures obtained by Fianna Fáil show that out of 309 applications to the 2019 Town and Village Renewal Scheme, 153 applications were rejected (50%). In contrast, the rejection rate for applications in the 2018 scheme was only 23%.

Deputy Calleary commented, “The government must at once account for the large spike in applications rejected. It is bizarre that we would have such a high rate of rejections.

“Often applications are done by those familiar with the scheme looking for funding to improve their local area. For whatever reason, half of applications this year were rejected. We need to know why.

“I also find it very alarming that the Minister has confirmed to me that there is “no formal appeals system in place for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme”. Rejected applications in villages and towns nationwide need to have full transparency and accountability.

“The Minister must ensure that there is due process in this vital scheme considering communities in rural Ireland invested a lot of time and resources in making detailed applications.

“I am calling on the Minister to outline what changes have clearly happened to the qualifying criteria which has seen so many applications rejected, and for him to instruct his department to allow a full and fair appeals system for this scheme,” concluded Deputy Calleary.