Kerry Local Development Companies welcome signing of LEADER Contract

The three Local Development Companies (LDCs) in Kerry have acknowledged the signing of the LEADER 2014-2020 contract for Co. Kerry by Minister Humphries, LCDC Chairperson Norma Moriarty and Kerry County Council CEO Moira Murrell last Friday but have pointed out that the programme is still not ready to be rolled out. Minister Humphries signed the contract on 8th July 2016 and the programme will be implemented in Kerry by NEWKD, SKDP and IRD Duhallow in conjunction with the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) and Kerry County Council.

Speaking following the signing, the three LDC’s CEOs said that while the contract is now in place, the Department has yet to finalize a number of programme operational issues, meaning that it is unlikely the programme can be launched locally until the autumn. The new programme will also see significant changes in the way the LEADER programme is rolled out in the county in addition to the significantly reduced budget available for applications under the new programme.

Speaking following the contract signing, IRD Duhallow CEO Maura Walsh said that the three implementing partners for the new round of LEADER funding – NEWKD, SKDP and IRD Duhallow – have an extensive track record in successfully delivering rural development programmes for more than 20 years. “We, as community-led organisations, will continue to work with groups in our area to ensure the new programme supports economic, community and environmental development in our three areas” Maura said.

Eamon O’Reilly, CEO of NEWKD cautioned however that while the level of interest from both the business sector and community & voluntary organisations is very strong, unfortunately there is a much reduced budget under the new programme. “Kerry had some €25m in funding available under the last programme while the current allocation for the county is just €10.2m under this new LEADER round” Eamon noted. He said that this will clearly impact on the number of projects that will be able to supported this time around.

In addition to the reduction in funding, there will be significant changes to the application process under the new programme CEO of SKDP Noel Spillane pointed out. “The details of how this will work are still being finalised but the implementing partners in Kerry will continue to engage fully with both the community and business sectors to ensure they are fully aware of the new arrangements for accessing LEADER support” Noel concluded.

Three core themes, Economic Development, Enterprise Development & Job Creation; Social Inclusion and Rural Environment will be targeted under the new programme under which there are a total of nine sub-themes.