The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), representing the 35 Local Development Companies (LDCs) that deliver the LEADER programme across the Country, have today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement by Minister for Social Protection, Rural & Community Affairs Heather Humphreys TD, of the arrangements for a transitional LEADER programme for 2021.
ILDN members had expressed concern recently at the lack of clarity in terms of the Government plans for LEADER ahead of the expiry of the current programme at the end of December. Today’s announcement provides welcome clarity for rural areas, Local Development Companies and their staff. Commenting on the announcement, ILDN Chairman Jim Finn said; “LEADER is a vitally important programme for locally-led rural development and it is crucial that it is properly resourced. The provision of funding for new projects in Communities for 2021 is indeed very welcome particularly against the backdrop of Brexit and the COVID-19 recovery. The granting of flexibilities in terms of completion of the current programme is also welcome owing to difficulties experienced by LDCs due to the pandemic. Today’s announcement by Minister Humphreys allows our LDC members to drive the COVID-19 recovery in their Communities with emphasis on projects in new areas under the themes energy, climate agenda, digital transformation, building capacity of communities.”
Also welcoming today’s announcement, ILDN Rural Development Chair & NEWKD CEO Éamonn O’Reilly said: “today’s measures confirmed by the Minister are timely and encouraging for community-led development in rural Ireland. The provision of funding for new projects is critically important at this time in the context of COVID-19 and Brexit. The changes to the grant rate for enterprise and commercial projects from 50% to 75% is good news as is the confirmation of a new call for proposals under the LEADER Food initiative which will support funding for artisan, micro and small food producers. Finally the flexibilities in terms of concluding the current programme and the provision for administration and animation are all to be welcomed.”
The ILDN believe that the LEADER programme is of utmost importance to the future development of rural communities and are keen to work with the Department of Rural & Community Development and the Department of Agriculture Food & Marine in the development of the next LEADER Programme 2023-2027 and the fulfilment of the Programme for Government commitments on the LEADER Programme.