1,000th LEADER project approved as funding allocations increase significantly – Over €29 million in projects now approved

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has welcomed the approval of the 1,000th LEADER project and the gathering momentum now evident behind the new Programme.

The milestone marks a significant expansion of activity over the last 12 months since the Minister introduced a range of measures to make the programme work better for both potential applicants and for the LEADER Local Action Groups which deliver the programme on the ground. The 1,000th Leader project was recently approved for funding, with over €29 million now allocated to support businesses and communities around rural Ireland.

Minister Ring said: “There has been a remarkable increase in LEADER funding allocations in the last 12 months thanks to all of the stakeholders involved. This time last year we had less than 50 projects approved. Now we have over 1,000 approved. I want to see this momentum continue over the coming months and the funding for the approved projects drawn down as quickly as possible.

“In addition to the €29 million committed to these 1,000 projects, there are a further 300 project applications going through the approval process for funding of about €20 million. LEADER funding represents an enormous opportunity for rural businesses and communities that are in need of investment and I want to see the programme continuing to grow and make a difference for rural Ireland over the coming years.”

The Minister added: “LEADER funding is helping to improve people’s quality of life and support livelihoods in rural communities throughout Ireland. LEADER is a developmental programme; it takes time for Local Action Groups to engage with local communities and identify projects that will make a difference locally. Once these projects have been identified, the impact of LEADER can be far-reaching and sustainable for rural communities.”

The 1,000th project approved for funding was for Muckross Rowing Club in Kerry to enable them to purchase a coastal rowing boat with a view to retaining young members who often leave the sport in their late teens. Other projects supported under the LEADER programme include tourism and heritage projects, supports for small businesses, facilities for rural towns, and basic services for local communities. Details of all projects approved for LEADER funding in every county can be found at:  https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/leader/

Minister Ring concluded: “It is fitting that the 1,000th project should have been approved by the Local Action Group (LAG) in Kerry. The group, together with its partners, has made great progress under the new LEADER programme and has already approved 129 projects for funding of approximately €2.3 million. The variety and quality of projects being delivered in Kerry reflect the potential of LEADER and I know that this is being replicated in other counties throughout the country.”

Note to Editors:

LEADER is a key component of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The programme is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs), made up of local representatives from both the public and private sector.

Funding is targeted at the priority areas identified in the Local Development Strategies developed by each LAG. These priorities come under the following themes:

  1. Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation e.g. business supports and investment in rural towns
  2. Social Inclusion e.g. community amenities and facilities for rural youth
  3. Rural Environment e.g. biodiversity and environmental improvement projects

The funding includes support for:

  • Construction and fit out costs;
  • Machinery and Equipment;
  • Marketing and Promotion;
  • Training;
  • Analysis and Development.

Businesses and communities interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme should, in the first instance, contact their Local Action Group. Further information regarding approved projects can be obtained from the Local Action Group in each area.

The details of all projects approved for LEADER funding in each county by the end of May 2018 can be found at the following link: https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-development/leader/. These are projects that have been selected by the Local Action Groups and where all of the necessary checks have been fully completed. Further information regarding the approved projects referenced below can be obtained from the Local Action Group in each area.  Contact details for all LAGs are available at the following link: List of LAGs.

Examples of projects supported under the LEADER programme in Co. Kerry include tourism and heritage projects (e.g. restoration of Listry Creamery and investment in Valentia Lighthouse), supports for small businesses (e.g. McGill’s brewery and the Tralee Bay Maritime Centre), facilities for rural towns (e.g. conversion of an unused area of Sneem village into a crazy golf facility for tourists and residents), and basic services for the local community (e.g. new playground in Caherdaniel and renovation of Lauragh Community Centre).