Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, says there is still €95 million to be spent under the LEADER Programme and the rate of spend is at a very slow rate.
Of the €130 million that was left to be spent at the beginning of this year, only €32 million has been spent, which Deputy Ó Cuív says is an extremely low rate of expenditure on the LEADER Programme.
He commented: “There is a very high likelihood of an under-spend on the LEADER programme when it is completed at the end of next year.
“This is becoming particularly acute now as the contracts for the Local Area groups delivering the LEADER Programme will come to an end at the end of 2014. I have repeatedly warned that no provision has been made for projects that will not proceed. The Department is taking an over cautious approach to the LEADER Programme and we may end up in a situation where not all of the €375 million provided for the programme will be spent and this will a huge loss for farming and rural communities across the country.
“I am now calling on the new Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly TD, to take urgent action to ensure a full spend on the LEADER Programme and that all the money provided for rural development from Europe would be spent in total, along with the matching Government finance, before it is lost.”