The 35 Local Development Companies who deliver the LEADER Programme, along with their representative body, Irish Local Development Network, recently met the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, to discuss ways to speed up progress in the current LEADER Programme.
ILDN and its members have been deeply concerned with the blockages to progress in the current programme and the way in which it is being over-administered through a litany of extra procedures that are over-and-above the requirements of good governance.
An ILDN spokesperson said that “LEADER has changed from a development programme to an overly-bureaucratic process with unreasonably high barriers for applicants.
“We are now ten months into the operational phase of the current programmes and most LDCs have been unable to commit monies to a single project due to the administrative blockages and multi-layered checking systems that take place outside of the LEADER companies. In some cases, projects have been held up because of multiple queries over items costing less than €7, even after the item is receipted and explained.”
“Local Development Companies (LDCs) with up to a quarter of a century delivering LEADER and who have nationally unique experience with successive programmes, reluctantly conclude that the current LEADER programme will fail if process problems are not addressed urgently.”
ILDN have made proposed a wide range of solutions to the Minister in an extensive position paper, drawing together the experiences of the country’s 35 LEADER companies.
ILDN has welcomed the Minister’s invitation to discuss the blockages and is urging a speedy resolution to the outstanding issues so that LEADER can get back on track and contribute to rural sustainability and innovation.