Two Galway TDs have criticised the lack of a specific focus on the islands in the new LEADER programme.
Sinn Féin TDs Claire Kerrane and Mairéad Farrell have said that their are different obstacles facing island communities, and being grouped in with a county does not serve their needs.
The LEADER programme provides funding for community led projects in rural areas, divided into Local Action Groups (LAGs).
These have generally been divided up on a county basis, and offshore islands are included with the rest of the county.
Deputy Kerrane said that it is a “blow to our Island communities” that the 2023-2027 LEADER programme will not reestablish an Island-specific LAG.
“It is also frustrating that the briefing note advises that consideration was given to establishing a LAG for the Islands, but ultimately the Government decided not to go ahead.”
“We know that Island communities are placed at a competitive disadvantage for LEADER funding by being included in current sub-regional areas.”
“Including the Islands in broad groupings, usually by County, does not serve their needs and does not support local development in these communities.”
Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell said that it is deeply disappointing that the voices of islanders have not been heard on the matter.
“We know from engagement with those who work in delivery of the LEADER programme that there are different obstacles for the Islands in availing of funding and that we need to deal with them.”
Deputy Kerrane said that it is not too late for Minister Heather Humphreys to revisit the decision, and establish an island specific grouping for the upcoming programme.