THE closing date for the receipt of plans from local companies under the €425 million LEADER element of the new five-year rural development programme remains fixed for July 4 (Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv is pictured).
Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv warned at the weekend that companies who drag their feet can’t expect to receive continued interim funding from his Department. He said the process has gone on long enough and it was now time for companies to endorse the plans and get on with the job.
Minister O Cuiv said he was disappointed so few companies to date have been fully formed with the election of a chairperson. He said he believed that these new plans should be signed off and that it was inexplicable this might still not be possible without further delaying the roll-out of the new programme.
“We have sent out a strong unambiguous message on this for a number of years now. We have provided assistance and funding and developed a comprehensive set of guidelines. These set out the governance arrangements and other characteristics of companies with which the Government is prepared to entrust public funds.
“In all this, we have been supportive of the achievements and experience of existing groups and have sought to include them at all times in the process,” said the Minister.
“One example of this is that we have continued to provide interim funding to LEADER groups to assist with the closure of the old programme and to retain valuable experience in the sector. It is a matter of some amazement to me that there still seem to be some shreds of belief that we are not serious about this and that there might be some way to avoid the Government’s intentions here. Let me be quite clear. The application process for the new LEADER programme finishes on July 4 next. Following that date I do not see any case for my Department to continue to provide interim funding to groups who have not taken concrete steps to comply with the governance guidelines,” he added.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved