Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says communities across the two counties are suffering as a result of the Department of Rural and Community Development’s failure to spend LEADER funding.

Deputy Smyth was commenting as new figures released to Fianna Fáil show that 13% of the €7,592,720m allocated to LEADER projects in Monaghan and a mere 12% of the €8,522,286 allocated to Cavan has been spent to date.

LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a total budget of €250 million over the period 2014-2020.

“We are now into year six of a seven year funding programme, yet just €956,612 of the Monaghan allocation and €1,053,659 of the Cavan total has been spent to date.  To make matters worse only 37% of the funding in Cavan and 35% of the money in Monaghan has been spend on the projects themselves – the rest has gone on administration costs”, said Deputy Smyth.

“One could forgive this little funding being allocated in year one or year two of a scheme of this nature, but we are not in year six. It’s just not on, and just not fair.

“Historically, the LEADER programme has been extremely successful in revitalising rural areas through community led schemes but the roll-out of funding under the current programme is hampering communities.

“Unfortunately this Government has added a lot of unnecessary red tape to the LEADER application process making it an arduous and complex process.

“This is a disgrace, and is damaging to rural communities. Questions need to be asked as to why so little of the funding has made its way to rural and community development organisations.

“The Minister has a responsibility to ensure that this money is spent and I am calling on him to intervene and speed up the roll out of this important programme”, concluded Deputy Smyth.