– Massive underspends in Leader, LIS and CLÁR since 2014 –
Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill says the huge underspends across a range of rural schemes are a clear signal that Fine Gael is simply not interested in rural Ireland.
New information released to Fianna Fáil reveal that in Tipperary alone, over €7.3m out of a total of €10.1m in funding remains unspent under the Leader programme. That’s over 70% of the funding, which was allocated in 2014, and is due to be spent by 2020.
Deputy Cahill said, “It’s quite obvious that Fine Gael has no interest in rural affairs. The government launched a new Department of Rural Development back in 2017, and despite numerous announcements, the simple fact is that Fine Gael is not delivering on rural issues. These massive underspends are clear evidence of that.
“Tipperary is losing out because the Minister appears to be asleep at the wheel. The Leader funding drawdown is appalling, but other important schemes are also stalled.
“Almost €1m allocated to Tipperary as part of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme went unspent last year. This scheme aims to increase economic activity through tourism and town improvement initiatives – something which is badly needed in Tipperary.
“Similarly, €600,000 under the Local Improvement Scheme, allocated for this year is still sitting unspent. There’s not a week that goes by when I am not contacted about roads needing upgrade works – this is exactly what this money is for but it is not being spent.
“There are also issues with CLÁR funding. Despite an underspend in Tipperary, the astro-turf playing pitch at Gortnahoe National School was refused funding under CLÁR this year. The local community was in a position to match the CLÁR funding to provide the facility however the application was rejected. The Gortnahoe community have a long record of fund raising to improve their area and it was a real let down not to be included.
“Minister Michael Ring has shown no leadership in his Department. It is not good enough to make big announcements, he has a duty to follow through and ensure that funding is being used. This detached attitude is straight out of the Fine Gael playbook and rural Ireland is losing out”.