By Stephen Cadogan
By mid-April, 900 rural projects with a value of more than €26.2 million were approved for LEADER funding.
A further 285 projects requesting over €16.1m in funding are at various stages in the approval process.
In Co Cork, there were large LEADER grants for the Rathcormac Communty Amenity Park, Dromahane Community Playground, and Bo Rua Farm Cheese Dairy.
Other Cork projects to qualify for LEADER grants to-date included the Glouneen River Walk Footbridge at Araglen, the Kanturk Mart Car Park, the Millstreet Daycare Centre, the new Carrigaline Men’s Shed Main Building, and the A Taste of West Cork Festival.
In Kerry, some of the bigger projects included Kerry Caherdaniel Playground .
In Co Limerick, an improvement programme at Cahill’s Farm Cheese Limited was grant-aided.
In Co Tipperary, the Tipperary Boutique Distillery Limited qualified for a €154,000 grant. Blackcastle Farm Food Processing was another big grant recipient in Co Tipperary.
In Co Waterford, the Anne Valley Walk at Dunhill, theComeragh Amenity Area at Rathgormack, Blackwater Distillery, and the Glasha Hydro Project were among the bigger leader grant recipients.
The Aghamore Community Amenities Centre and Cill Chomáin GAA Community Development Ltd (Kilcommon GAA Community Development Ltd) in Co Mayo were among the biggest recipients, with €300,000 leader grants each.
The Castlebar Social Services New Building Extension also qualified for a €225,000 grant.
LEADER is the multi-annual EU co-funded programme to support rural development.
Ireland has an allocation of €250 million under the programme over the period 2014-2020.
Project payments amounting to €1,530,538.65 have been made up to April 15, 2018.
Funding is drawn down as projects start to incur expenditure and submit payment claims.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said the pace of grant approvals varies between the LEADER Local Action Groups (LAGs), but he is confident that the progress made by the groups in 2018, and administrative improvements which his department introduced last year, will result in a significant increase in project approvals and payments under the LEADER programme over the coming months.
Including claims paid to project promoters and administration fees paid to LAGs, up to mid-April, the total amount of Leader funding which has thus far been issued since the commencement of the 2014-2020 Programme was €17,452,596.