Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Rural, Community, and Gaeltacht Affairs and Party Deputy Leader Dara Calleary TD has said the LEADER funding spend to date is a shocking indictment of this government’s record on community and rural issues.

Figures revealed to Fianna Fáil show that €17m has been spent out of €250m on project expenditure.

Deputy Calleary commented, “It is a damning indictment that out of the €250m allocation for the 2014-2020 LEADER programme, 80% of total funding remains unspent at the end of March 2019.

“It is shocking that only 17m has been spent on actual project expenditure. This is another classic example of Fine Gael policy being asleep at the wheel.

“My Party colleague Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív has asked Minister Ring to request from the Minister for Public Expenditure that the threshold for the requirement for e-tenders be increased in order to cut the level of bureaucracy that is hindering community groups from bringing smaller projects forward. This should be acted on immediately.

“LEADER should be delivering vital projects that can be the foundation for sustainable economic development. At this expenditure pace it won’t meet its targets. Monies will be unspent and returned. That is a ridiculous situation when one considers the challenges facing rural communities,” concluded Deputy Calleary.