Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has said the LEADER funding spend to date is a shocking indictment of this government’s record on community and rural issues.

Figures revealed to Fianna Fáil show that €17m has been spent out of €250m on project expenditure nationwide.

Deputy Mac Sharry commented, “It is shocking that only 17m has been spent on actual project expenditure. This is yet another example of Fine Gael’s total ineptitude when it comes to supporting rural social entrepreneurship.  Launches and photo calls are no substitute for rolling our financial support that is supposed to be available through LEADER.

“I have met with many local groups working to draw down LEADER funding. Leader company staff in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon are second to none however, what impediments are preventing these funds getting to the local communities who need them? 

“Figures released to me show that just 19% of the overall budget has been spent in Sligo, 14% in Roscommon, 19% in Leitrim, and 29% in Donegal. Dedicated staff and the funds are available.  There can be no legitimate excuse for the failure in channeling these funds to local groups and initiatives that can benefit all our communities.

“Urgent action is required by Government to ensure these funds are properly and efficiently distributed to support initiatives across the North West.  If the current delays continue, funds will be unspent and returned despite the hard work being done on the ground,” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.