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Ministers announce €70 million LEADER funding for rural communities and enterprises

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Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, have today (12th March 2021) announced the allocation of €70 million through the LEADER programme for the period 2021-2022.

LEADER is a rural development programme co-funded by the EU which operates a locally-led, bottom-up, approach to meeting the needs of local communities and businesses. The programme supports private enterprises and community groups in rural areas. LEADER forms part of Ireland’s multi-annual Rural Development Programme which is co-financed by the EU and is part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

The LEADER programme is delivered by 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) in 28 sub-regional areas. These groups are partnerships of public and private entities from a defined geographical area. LAGs are responsible for identifying and helping to develop local projects which support the themes of Economic Development (including enterprise development and job creation), Social Inclusion and Rural Environment.

The Government has today begun the process of submitting an amendment to the European Commission to extend the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, under which LEADER is funded, out to the end of 2022.

As part of that process, the LEADER Programme will be allocated a total of €70 million for 2021-2022, adding an extra €50 million to the initial funding of €20 million announced by Minister Humphreys in December 2020.

Minister Humphreys and Minister McConalogue today said that the funding will support rural communities and private enterprises in the recovery of Covid-19.

Welcoming the funding, Minister Humphreys said :

“Last December, I launched the Transitional LEADER programme for the period 2021-2022 and gave a commitment to review funding for the Programme when clarity was provided regarding EU funding for the transitional period to the end of 2022.

“Today, I am delighted to announce the allocation of €70 million for LEADER to the end of 2022 as part of the extended Rural Development Programme. This will give local communities and enterprises an opportunity to respond to the emerging challenges for their areas and will support measures that provide employment and job creation throughout rural Ireland.

“The funding we are announcing today will ensure that more vital locally-led projects in areas like climate change, digital transformation, remote working and enterprise development can be progressed in rural communities throughout the country.”

Minister McConalogue said :

LEADER is an important element of Ireland’s EU co-funded Rural Development Programme, which forms part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

“Through the LEADER programme, over the next two years a total of €70 million, of which more than €50 million is expected to come from the EU, will be directly invested into rural areas to help address specific needs and help to realise opportunities for rural Ireland as we recover from the impact of COVID-19.”

In the coming weeks, the Department of Rural and Community Development will provide the breakdown of the increased allocation of €70 million to each of 29 Local Action Groups who deliver the LEADER Programme

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