Published 11 December 2018
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has announced that over 1,500 projects have now been approved under the new LEADER Programme. In total, over €50 million has now been awarded to LEADER projects over the past year and a half. The amount of funding allocated to-date in 2018, at €34 million, is more than double the amount allocated in 2017.
The LEADER projects are supporting about 1,100 community organisations and 400 rural businesses. Over 1,000 of the projects involve investment in areas such as construction and renovation costs, or the purchase of equipment. The remainder involve training courses, marketing supports and funding for the analysis and development work that underpins new products, services and community supports.
Minister Ring said: “The 1,500th project involves LEADER funding of almost €12,000 for Christmas festival lights in Baltinglass in west Wicklow. This will help generate a buzz around the town in the approach to Christmas. It gives everyone a lift and will help attract people into the town which is beneficial for local businesses.
“Behind each of these 1,500 projects is a community group or a small rural business committed to their local community and their local economy. For example, Bó Rua Farm in Ballynoe, Co Cork was allocated €150,000 under the LEADER programme to fund the construction of a farmhouse cheese dairy. This will allow the owners to scale up and commercialise their farmhouse cheese utilising their Montbeliarde cows whose milk is used in traditional French cheese production. This project will deliver an innovative new rural business which has the potential to create jobs.
“I am determined to ensure that rural communities benefit from support and investment through LEADER or any other programme under my Department. I expect that the number of LEADER project funding approvals around the country will continue to increase significantly as we approach the end of the year.”
Minister Ring concluded: “The 1,500 approvals represent a remarkable turnaround for LEADER after a challenging start for the programme. I am very pleased that the changes I made to LEADER have had the desired effect and that LEADER is delivering for rural Ireland.”
“The LEADER Local Action Groups in each area are there to assist all current and future applicants. I would encourage other groups and businesses to talk to the representatives from their local group to see how LEADER can be of benefit to them.”
Note to Editors
The €50 million refers to amounts awarded to LEADER projects. This funding is drawn down as community groups and rural businesses implement their respective projects.
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:.
- Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation e.g. business supports and investment in rural towns
- Social Inclusion e.g. community amenities and facilities for rural youth.
- 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;
- 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. Contact details for all LAGs are available at the following link: List of LAGs.