Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West has expressed outrage over the scale of cuts to LEADER community programmes across the county. The latest figures reveal that funding for Co. Galway has been slashed by 56% over the next six years.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “This massive funding cut will have a huge impact on local communities across the county. LEADER funds play an integral part in the roll out of community projects, creating jobs and providing essential services like childcare provision, rural transport services and social inclusion programmes. This latest round of cuts will lead to harsh reductions and place these development companies under increased pressure.
“The impact of the massive reduction in LEADER funding cannot be overestimated. Outside of the area around the city, large parts of the county, including Connemara, are declining rural areas. And then we have the islands. The county has already been singled out for substantial cuts and has been neglected by this Government in terms of investment. Almost all of the major jobs announcements last year were in the Dublin and eastern region, while investment in areas west of the Shannon, and more significantly in Co. Galway have been sorely neglected. This urban-rural divide is made even more obvious in this latest LEADER allocation; while the funding for Galway is cut by 56%, the money awarded to rural Dublin has increased by 2%.
“LEADER companies are an important source of development money for employment creation in rural areas and are credited with revitalising communities across the country.
“This Government appears to be on a quest to dismantle rural communities in Galway and these savage cuts are a prime example of its rural demolition programme. People will be shocked to learn the level of rural development cuts targeted at Co Galway under the current LEADER programme. It is not enough for the Government to simply say that it prioritises rural Ireland. We need more than empty PR statements. Communities here need to start seeing the crucial supports that will encourage local economic growth”.