FIANNA Fáil frontbencher, Éamon Ó Cuív, has thrown down the gauntlet to new Rural Affairs Minister, Michael Ring, to tackle the ongoing issue of massive underspends on rural budgets.
The FF Spokesperson on Rural, Regional, Gaeltacht and Island Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív, said that there was frustration and alarm at the lack of money being spent on rural initiatives, despite funding being allocated in the Budget.
He said that by the end of last May, the total spend so far this year on rural and regional projects amounted to just €2.6 million right across the country.
“Not only is this a massive underspend, the most worrying aspect is the fact that the bulk of this money was related to the administration of the LEADER programme. None of the spend was used for any form of capital expenditure on the ground for rural or regional development projects,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.
He added that in relation to the new Action Plan for Rural Ireland announced back in January the situation was considerably worse with a ‘miserly’ €78,000 spent on projects under the headings of Rural Development Scheme, the Town and Village Regeneration Scheme and Rural Broadband.
“That’s a mere 0.3% of the total allocation for the year. Time and time again, I have expressed my concern over the fact that there has been no expenditure to date on LEADER projects, and that all the money spent to date has gone towards the administration of the scheme.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.