Figures seen by the Offaly Express reveal that just €64,050 has filtered through to Offaly rural development projects under the embattled LEADER programme.
Introduced in 1991, the LEADER programme is supposed to provide rural communities across the European Union with the resources to enable local partners to actively engage and direct the local development of their area, through community-led local development.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is the programme manager for LEADER, and under its plan for the initiative from 2014 to 2020, it aims to help communities in areas such as Rural Tourism, Enterprise Development, Rural Broadband, Rural Youth, Local Biodiversity and Renewable energy with a purse of over €250 million.
However, figures released through an answer to a parliamentary question from a Cavan-Monaghan TD, show that although 42 projects valued at €756,146 had been approved in Offaly up to the end of 2017, just €64,050 in actual funding had been delivered to the Local Action Groups involved.
In the parliamentary question reply, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said: "While the pace of approvals varies between Local Action Groups, I am confident that the progress made by the LAGs in the second half of 2017, along with the administrative improvements which my Department introduced last year, will result in a significant increase in project approvals and payments under the LEADER programme over the coming months."
In total, 592 projects worth over €16 million had received approval to the end of 2017, but just €661,844 had been delivered to the LAGs involved.
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