Greater alignment of local government and local development has sparked a major political row over the €314m of LEADER funding for rural development.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan said improved alignment will involve greater co-ordination of local development activities, with an enhanced role for local government.
But Co Cork TD Michael Moynihan has accused Minister Hogan of gutting community-based provision of local services through the EU’s LEADER Programme. LEADER activities are co-financed by the European Union at a rate of 85%.
Local development companies include 35 LEADER companies contracted on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to deliver rural development. These groups are the principal decision-makers in allocating LEADER funding.
Mr Hogan has refuted allegations that local groups are to be integrated with local authorities. And Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Fergus O’Dowd, said the local development model is to be retained, and local development companies will continue to have a delivery role. But Mr Moynihan warned that alignment of local government and local development is “a naked grab for funds for money-strapped local authorities”.
LEADER project expenditure up to Oct 31, 2012, totalled €100m.
The busiest LEADER companies are Ballyhoura Development Limited (€4.46m); Clare Local Development Company Limited (€4.25m); Sligo LEADER Partnership Co (€3.98m); North Tipperary LEADER Partnership Company (€3.79m); Galway Rural Development Company Limited €3.78m); Wexford Local Development (€3.75m); South West Mayo Development Company Limited (€3.59m); West Cork Development Partnership Ltd (€3.5m) IRD Duhallow (€3.41m); Co Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Co Ltd (€3.37m); Waterford LEADER Partnership Limited (€3.34m); South Tipperary Local Development Company Limited (€3,16m) and South and East Cork Area Development Limited (€3.13m).
nAt Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Co Teo, project expenditure up to Oct 31, 2012, totalled €2.72m. Approval of LEADER projects by the company is suspended pending completion of an investigation by the Department for the Environment, Community and Local Government, on foot of correspondence received in 2011 by Minister Phil Hogan regarding a possible governance issue.
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