South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd. CEO Noel Spillane said that the organisation is extremely disappointed with the funding allocation it has now received from the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme as announced by Minister Phil Hogan earlier this week.
SKDP’s revised allocation under the programme is €9,998,740 down from an original allocation of €12,370,667, which represents a cut of just over 19%. Included in this revised allocation is a ring-fenced allocation of €196,000 for the South Kerry Gaeltacht area. When the revised allocation is adjusted for the ring-fenced Gaeltacht figure, the actual cut is over 20.7%. CEO of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd, Noel Spillane noted that the 20.7% cut in budget was a massive reduction in the Rural Development (LEADER) Programme budget for South Kerry and was totally unjustified. Noel Spillane went on to note that the ring fenced allocation of €196,000 for the South Kerry Gealtacht area was totally inadequate given that the MFG legacy files alone exceeded this allocation amount.
“This is an insult to the people of the Gaeltacht” according to CEO Noel Spillane who went on to point out that the RDP (LEADER) programme was effectively closed to these people for more than a year when MFG went out of business and now no funding has been provided to cater for new project applications. “We currently have new project applications with a value of more than €300,000 from the South Kerry Gaeltacht area and this allocation means that we don’t even have sufficient funding available to deal with the older legacy projects” he said.
In relation to the overall RDP (LEADER) allocation for SKDP, Noel Spillane was scathing in his criticism of the amount of funding provided to the Partnership and pointed out that most of the Rural Development (LEADER) programme allocation to projects occurred in the last years of the Programme. “This is because of the amount of development work it takes with programme applicants and the supporting documentation and planning it takes to get a file ready for an application, particularly in relation to larger projects” he said. ” Many people and organisations have put substantial time and effort in putting in project applications under LEADER and it now appears we will not be in a position to providing funding to all of them” Noel said. He added that this comes at a time when communities and businesses in rural areas such as South Kerry are under extreme pressure trying to survive and need all the assistance they can get. “The press release from the Department announcing the release of funding this week under LEADER was particularly misleading in that it gives the impression that plenty of funding is available for projects despite the fact that the Minister clearly knows this is not the case and in fact he has cut funding overall” Noel said. “This is another example of the contempt with which the Government seems to be treating Rural Ireland and the crisis it is facing at present” Noel added
The issue will come before the Board of SKDP at their monthly meeting on Tuesday next and It is anticipated that a formal written compliant will made by SKDP to the Dept. of Environment, Community & Local Government. What additional action to take at both a local and national level to fight these new cuts will be will also be considered.