Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that the failure of the Department of Rural and Community Development to spend the previously allocated LEADER funding is a mistake, and is damaging to communities in West Cork.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting as new figures released to Fianna Fáil show that just 20% of the €5.015 million LEADER funding allocated to West Cork 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 €983,997 of West Cork’s allocation has been spent to date.

“To make matters worse, just €146,440 has actually been spent on projects with the remaining amount spent on administration costs.

“One could forgive 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.

“Why the hold up? It’s as if they don’t want to spend this money on rural Ireland,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.