Ní Riada looks for answers from Heather Humphreys


Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada calls for explanation on LEADER funding complications.

Ní Riada looks for answers from Heather Humphreys

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Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada calls for explanation on LEADER funding complications.

Heather Humphresy announced during the week that she intends to review and change the current processes for LEADER funding processes after recent news broke of 6 month waiting times for a €10 bill as an example.
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada upon hearing the news has called for the Rural Affairs Minister, Heather Humphreys, to explain why the LEADER funding process has become needlessly complicated.

The Ireland South MEP said changes to the way the European rural development fund was delivered were making it harder for communities to get access to vital funding.

Ms Ní Riada made the comments after meeting with Padraig Casey and Shay Riordan of the Ballyhoura Development group in Limerick to discuss difficulties they were facing in drawing down funds.

“The LEADER Programme in Ireland has for 25 years been a crucial fund bringing vital investment to often neglected rural areas,” she said.

“However, recent changes to the fund have hugely impacted on its ability to directly impact communities.

She says the impact on local communities is due to the changing over of power to the local authorities. She said“It was initially delivered by community led local development companies but last year the process was changed taking it out of the hands of local people, those who know where it can do the most good."
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She also highlighted the fact that the level of approvals for grants has taken a sharp decrease while the paper workload has trebled. She added “The level of grant approvals has also fallen dramatically while the administrative workload in applying for the grant has trebled. In addition to it now being prohibitively costly in terms of time, an overzealous vetting procedure, which has found no major increase of ineligible applications over the previous vetting procedure, is making the scheme itself more costly to administrate."

Ní Riada did also take time to point out the benefits to the programme saying it has the power to help reinvent and develop local rural communities, “LEADER has the potential to help revive and reinvigorate rural communities but it is being hampered by a string of needless and ineffective changes."

She also stated that The Rural Affairs minister should hold her hands up and admit her mistakes, saying "Minister Humphreys must take responsibility for allowing this debacle to develop. Her incompetent and ineffectual stewardship of the fund has come at the expense of struggling rural communities and I believe she owes them an explanation. The whole purpose of this fund should be about making it as simple as possible to get available funding to the communities that need it."

She concluded by assuring that she will pursue the matter further in Europe to find out the real reasons behind the changes “I will be raising this issue in Europe with other Sinn Féin MEPs, along with my colleagues in Dáil Éireann to try and find out why these changes were implemented and how we can go about making it easier to get this money where it is most needed.”

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