Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Rural Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has called on entrepreneurs and community groups to immediately apply for funding under the Leader programme.

Deputy Ó Cuív has expressed his disappointment that 33% of the funding under the Leader Programme has yet to be processed.

“Only €171 million of the €252 million available under the scheme has been processed,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“The remaining €81 million needs to be sanctioned next year as all the money has to be approved by the end of 2013 and spent by the middle of 2015.

“Entrepreneurs with small business proposals or community groups should now urgently contact their local Leader companies with a view to ensuring there is a full draw down of funds under the programme. The approval and expenditure of €81 million in rural communities across the county over the next two years would be a major boost to rural Ireland and it is absolutely vital that this money is spent in full.

“I know that the local Leader companies, through the integrated Rural Development Companies, will work closely with local communities to ensure full spend of this money while also providing assistance for people making applications.

“It is disappointing that only 40% of the money in the Programme has been spent to date, but over the next two years the local rural integrated companies will be spending €152 million in the local economy, which will be vital for local communities.”