Rural communities taking €100m hit on LEADER red tape: Ó Cuív
Community development projects and rural business initiatives have been starved of €100m in funding because of red tape around the LEADER programme.
Fianna Fáil has claimed that the scheme is in crisis, with just 0.6pc of its budget allocated so far.
The party's spokesman on rural affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív, said the current LEADER programme had failed to get off the ground "in any meaningful way".
"A total budget of €250m was allocated to this programme - around €50m was earmarked for administration, with the remaining €200m earmarked to be spent on projects," explained Mr Ó Cuív.
"Despite the fact that we are now half-way through the timeline for the programme, the total expenditure to date amounts to only €100,000 - or 0.6pc [when by this stage, €1m should have been spent].
"This is a frighteningly low level of spending, more than three years into the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020."
Fianna Fáil claim that projects to a value of just €6.4m have been approved to date. "It is becoming clear that there will be another substantial underspend in this programme for this year - with estimates putting the underspend at around €25m," Mr Ó Cuív said.
However, Minister Heather Humphreys stated she was confident progress was now being made which would result in a significant increase in project approvals.