Dismantling LEADER could result in loss of EU funds

Labour MEP Nessa Childers has raised strong concerns about the proposals to dismantle the local development LEADER companies, asking ‘why fix something that is not broken?’

Labour MEP Nessa Childers has raised strong concerns about the proposals to dismantle the local development LEADER companies, asking ‘why fix something that is not broken?’

She commented, “will the new proposals result in a loss of EU funding? The criteria for funding laid down by the European Commission for rural development support, favours a bottom up, local and community approach to rural development. Another concern is that we will be in danger of losing expertise developed over the past twenty years.”

Ms Childers was responding to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government’s reform document “Putting People First” which proposes to dismantle LEADER groups around the country and bring them under the auspices of the local authorities.

“The Irish Leader model is used as an example of best practice across Europe and The European Commission has acknowledged the Irish LEADER model as being one of the best in Europe. This has been highlighted in successive reports, but most recently by the European Court of Auditors in their Special Report No. 5 of 2010. In this report, the Court praised the ‘bottom-up’ nature of LEADER administration in Ireland,” she stated.

Ms Childers has raised these issues with Minister Hogan, and will support a delegation representing the LEADER companies, The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) when they visit the European Parliament in January. The ILDN will meet Irish MEPs and the European Commission to outline their concerns about the new government proposals.