Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the Minister for Rural & Community Development must take action to ensure that local authorities spend funding allocated to them under the Rural Development Programme.
He made the call after new figures released to the party revealed that more than€5m has gone unspent over the last two years. Here in Cavan, the figure is €188,452.
Deputy Smith commented, “A number of programmes including the REDZ, CLÁR and Town & Village Renewal Schemes are running underspends for the past two years. In fact, in these three schemes alone over €188,000 has gone unspent since 2016. This is having an impact on community programmes and projects.
“Despite claims that local authorities are being starved of resources, the figures from the Department of Rural & Community Affairs tell a different story. The money is there, but it appears that it just isn’t being spent.
“Minister Ring must clamp down on these underspends by taking a tougher line with councils. He needs to be clear on the deadlines by which the work is carried out, and if a council fails to comply the money should be returned to the Department. This should spur local authorities into action.
“The underspend in Cavan is being replicated right across the country and it should not be tolerated. The situation is being exacerbated by delays in the rollout of RDP programmes this year, with the Minister confirming that he has not received any submissions under the Rural Recreation Scheme, the CLÁR Scheme, the Village and Town Renewal Scheme or the Local Improvement Scheme in 2018.
“I am urging him to approve submissions as soon as is possible as any delays will make it exceptionally difficult for councils to carry out the works before the end of the year”.