Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has said that she will be engaging with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, regarding plans to slash funding for the LEADER Programme 2023-2027 to €180 million.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after The Irish Local Development Network insisted that the proposed cuts will deprive rural communities of critical capacity building supports and funding for vital enterprise, tourism, and community-led development:
“Plans to reduce the funding to the next round of the LEADER Programme make no sense whatsoever given the proven track record of LEADER organisation to deliver significant benefits to rural communities throughout Laois-Offaly and beyond.
I am particularly alarmed by the ILDN’s assessment that the drop in funding will hit weaker communities including our youth, women, and older people.
We know that the previous Programme which ran from 2016-2020 that had a Budget of €250 million and that the 2009-2013 LEADER had an initial Budget of €450 million.
There is a clear trajectory and pattern emerging here that must be resisted.
Indeed, this latest round of cuts only confirms the view that many rural representatives like myself have been articulating for some time; which is that while government gives with one hand to rural communities it immediately takes back with the other,” concluded Deputy Nolan.