Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Rural, Community, and Gaeltacht Affairs and Party Deputy Leader, Dara Calleary, has said that despite Government’s announcement of successful projects to be funded under the 2019 town and village renewal scheme, the underspend in the scheme’s previous years will leave many people in rural Ireland sceptical on rapid delivery.

Deputy Calleary said that wasn’t good enough for the Minister to simply show up and announce projects, he needs to take the initiative and review the expenditure rules which would allow the funds to be drawn down more efficiently.

Deputy Calleary explained, “Information I received recently shows that there was an underspend of over €20million in the town and village renewal scheme for monies allocated in 2017 and 2018.

“In addition, the Government’s much heralded Rural Regeneration fund for towns and villages which was launched over 15 months ago with €52million allocated for 2019 has seen just €14million of funds drawn down – representing a 74 per cent underspend.

“There is a major difference between what the Government press releases and launches announce and what is actually delivered. Instead of laying blame at the feet of the Local Authorities the Minister should try taking a proactive approach and review the expenditure rules.

“The Department is not getting the vital funding to these projects quickly enough. No amount of spin can deny the fact that rural Ireland is being failed miserably by this Government”, he concluded.