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LEADER cuts leave community projects hanging by a thread

Rural areas across County Galway face ‘utter devastation’ as local development funding is to be slashed by over a quarter.

Projects and services aimed at improving the lot of deprived areas east and west of the county will be slashed, according to the development companies administering the LEADER Programme in Galway.

And as a result, vital local projects including sports facilities, community centres and tourism initiatives may have to be abandoned – while staff in both Galway Rural Development (GRD) and Forum Connemara face an uncertain future.

The LEADER Programme for 2023 to 2027 was recently announced, with €9 million allocated to County Galway – the county is split into two areas, Galway East administered by GRD and Galway West which is covered by Forum Connemara, led by CEO, Karen Mannion.

This represents an over 26% cut on the previous round of funding in which the county received just under €12.2 million.

CEO of GRD Steve Dolan said this would leave the east of the county in a dire position, and per head of population, one of the worst-funded areas of the country.

“Cork somehow increased by €3 million and Monaghan, for example, will receive €6 million, which equates to €92.55 per head – twice that per head in Galway,” said Mr Dolan, adding the allocation per head in East Galway would amount to less than €40.

“Galway also compares unfavourably to all the neighbouring counties. Roscommon will receive €97.15 per person, Sligo €87.37. Even the likes of Mayo (€64.13) and Offaly (€76.21) are getting far more. Given their similar demographics and socio-economic standings, I don’t how can this be justified,” he continued.

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