Minister signs Funding Agreements to allow funding to flow into rural Ireland
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, is today (Friday) signing the first batch of Funding Agreements under the LEADER Programme 2020. The Minister said the €250 million programme will support hundreds of jobs across rural Ireland.
The agreements are being signed with Local Action Groups from around the country at an event in the Virginia Show Centre in Cavan, which previously benefitted from €500,000 in LEADER funding.
Funding of €250 million will be distributed to entrepreneurs and community groups throughout Ireland by the Local Action Groups, which are made up of public and private representatives.
The LEADER programme funds projects under a diverse range of themes that include enterprise development, rural tourism, social inclusion and the environment. The programme is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The previous LEADER programme delivered almost 10,000 projects throughout rural Ireland. In addition to supporting community-based projects, last year LEADER funding supported over 800 enterprises and 500 jobs.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“Today is a very important day for rural Ireland. The LEADER programme will deliver some €250 million into rural towns and villages right across the country over the next four years. By signing the funding agreements with the Local Action Groups today, we are unlocking this vital funding for rural Ireland.
“I know that communities across the country are very eager to access this funding, for the benefit of local groups and organisations. Upon taking over responsibility for rural and regional affairs, I was very keen to ensure the Funding Agreements could be signed as quickly as possible so that this money can start to flow into rural Ireland. Now, the majority of Funding Agreements are being signed, meaning the Local Action Groups can start receiving applications for funding.
“We know that last year, LEADER funding supported 800 enterprises and helped to create in the region of 500 jobs. LEADER is an incredibly important source of funding for rural towns and villages, and I am confident that the €250 million fund will support significant job creation in the coming years.
“The Virginia Show Centre, and the people behind it, is a great example of what can be achieved with the investment LEADER provides. One of the great strengths of the LEADER programme is that it puts funding decisions in the hands of the communities where the money is spent; local decisions by local people. The LEADER programme will fund a wide variety of projects over the coming years; projects large or small; projects with economic, social or environmental dimensions.
“LEADER is built on local people facilitated by Local Action Groups. The investment provided through LEADER at a national level can only make a meaningful impact with the vision and effort of community groups and entrepreneurs at a local level. I look forward to facilitating their work, and funding their investments, in the coming years.”
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