Pressure on Kelly to reverse LEADER 'alignment' plans
PRESSURE is growing on the new Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to reverse plans to transfer control of LEADER funding from local development companies (LDCs) to local authorities.
More than 2,500 protestors from community groups all over the country staged a protest outside the Dail last Wednesday highlighting their fears that the Government's LEADER proposals will undermine the work and job creation potential of LDCs.
The 'alignment' plan to involve local authorities in the management of the new €250m LEADER programme, was announced by outgoing Environment Minister Phil Hogan last May as part of a drive for "greater efficiencies" within the country's 50 LDCs.
But Mr Hogan's pending departure for Brussels as Ireland's new EU Commissioner has given new momentum to the campaign against the LEADER 'alignment' plans.
"There is still time to change direction on this issue as the European Commission have yet to sign off on any Government proposals on LEADER," Independent MEP Marian Harkin said this week.
"I am in regular contact with the European Commission on this issue and believe that the majority of Irish MEPs will make their views, strongly supporting the current LEADER model, known to the European Commission.
"The way in which LEADER programmes have been administered in Ireland is regarded as best practice by the European Commission and a template for the programme in other EU countries," said Ms Harkin.