The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey, today announced that he is making available an initial allocation for 2011 of €40m under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.
Minister Carey stressed the potential of the Rural Development Programme to create sustainable employment in rural communities. The Minister urged Local Action Groups across the country to support projects that facilitate the creation of sustainable employment opportunities in their areas.
Minister Carey stated: “I would urge all Local Action Groups to focus their energies on supporting projects that will bring jobs and real and sustainable growth to communities across rural Ireland. The availability of this initial €40m allocation for 2011 will allow Local Action Groups to commit to a range of new projects that will further develop and enhance the social and economic opportunities of rural areas.”
Minister Carey also announced that he intends to meet soon with representatives of local action groups to discuss the progress of the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme. The Minister is calling this meeting to discuss best practice and emerging opportunities under the programme and to address any difficulties that participants have encountered with the implementation of the programme to date.
The Rural Development Programme is co-funded by the Government and the European Union. The 2007-2013 Irish programme has a budget of €5,778m over a seven year period of which €2,339m will be funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and €3,438m by the national Exchequer. The delivery of LEADER-type activities has funding of over €425m to be provided during the lifetime of the Programme. This level of funding is almost treble the amount available throughout the 2000-2006 programme and constitutes the largest package to date for rural development. Taking into consideration the private investment that the programme will attract, it is estimated that the programme’s funding should ensure over €1,000m is spent in rural Ireland.