Catherine Cowap, Acting CEO Laois Partnership, Mary Kennedy RTE and Peter O'Neill, Chairman Laois Partnership at a pre-Covid-19 event in Portlaoise
A Laois agency that provides vital help to community groups and businesses extra Leader funds announced by the Government will be needed to help rural areas after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Laois Partnership Company, a member of the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) who represent the 35 Local Development Companies (LDCs) that delivers the LEADER Programme nationally. They have welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Rural & Community Development Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Agriculture Food & Marine Charlie McConalogue TD, of an increased allocation of €70 million in 2021 & 2022 for the LEADER Programme.
Peter O’Neill, Laois Partnership Company Chairman, welcomed the announcement.
"Laois Partnership Company and ILDN have been calling recently for the Government to utilise funding available from the EU for Rural Development, for the purposes of LEADER. As the deliverers of LEADER in Co Laois we are greatly encouraged by today’s announcement of an increased allocation of €70 million to the end of 2022,” he said.
Catherine Cowap, is the acting CEO of Laois Partnership Company. She said the LEADER Programme offers the ideal vehicle for the delivery of development funding to Rural Areas in the most effective manner.
"The allocation of this increased funding will deliver critical stimulus to rural areas to help drive the post-Covid recovery. Furthermore, the funding announced today will ensure that more vital projects in County Laois focused on climate change, digital transformation, remote working and enterprise development can be progressed in our rural communities throughout the country to meet the expectations of the EU in terms of the requirements of its Recovery funding criteria," said Ms Cowap.
Ms Cowap added that the minister has said her department will communicating the breakdown for Laois and other agencies in the coming weeks.
It was announced in December 2020 that €647,690 had been allocated to Laois Partnership in transitional to bridge a gap in the leader funding process out of a national total of €20 million.
An extra €50 million to the initial funding of €20 million was announced by Minister Humphreys on March 12.
Minister Humphreys and Minister McConalogue said that the funding will support rural communities and private enterprises in the recovery of Covid-19.
Welcoming the funding, Minister Humphreys said: "This will give local communities and enterprises an opportunity to respond to the emerging challenges for their areas and will support measures that provide employment and job creation throughout rural Ireland.
“The funding we are announcing today will ensure that more vital locally-led projects in areas like climate change, digital transformation, remote working and enterprise development can be progressed in rural communities throughout the country.”
Minister McConalogue said: “LEADER is an important element of Ireland’s EU co-funded Rural Development Programme, which forms part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).
“Through the LEADER programme, over the next two years a total of €70 million, of which more than €50 million is expected to come from the EU, will be directly invested into rural areas to help address specific needs and help to realise opportunities for rural Ireland as we recover from the impact of COVID-19,” he said.
LEADER is a rural development programme co-funded by the EU which operates a locally-led, bottom-up, approach to meeting the needs of local communities and businesses. The programme supports private enterprises and community groups in rural areas. LEADER forms part of Ireland’s multi-annual Rural Development Programme which is co-financed by the EU and is part of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).
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