Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has hit out at the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs after it emerged that not one application under the Town & Village Renewal Programme 2017 has been approved to date.

In reply to a Parliamentary Question, Minister Heather Humphreys confirmed that applications are still “being assessed”.

Deputy Ó Cuív said, “The delays within the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs are now par for the course.  It’s running a huge underspend across a range of programmes, and seems oblivious to the fact that communities across the country are reliant on this funding to carry out essential works.

“€7m was set aside for the CLÁR programme for 2017, and despite the fact that 231 projects have been approved, not one cent has been spent on any of them.  These projects were approved some months ago but the community groups have been left in limbo and are still waiting for the final letters of approval of projects

“There are similar delays in Town & Village Renewal Programme.  Applications closed at the end of June, but more than 6 weeks later none have been approved.  It will be well into the autumn before any money is drawn down under this scheme.

“These delays are inexcusable and must be addressed as a matter of priority.  It is unacceptable that money earmarked for specific schemes is not being allocated in a timely matter and the already substantial underspend is allowed to grow.  The Minister and Department must wake up to this very real problem and take urgent action to address it”.