Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (414)

Dara Calleary


414. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the overall amount of Leader funding made available under the 2007 to 2013 for Gaeltacht areas; if he will advise on the amount of funding already approved and paid out; the steps being taken to approve further projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12913/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG) was the Local Development Company contracted by my Department to deliver Axes 3 & 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in Gaeltacht Areas for the current 2007-2013 programming period. MFG went into liquidation on the 7 September 2011. The delivery of RDP funding to most of the Gaeltacht areas previously served by MFG is now being facilitated by the geographically contiguous Local Development Companies (LDCs). Between February 2009 and September 2011 MFG registered expenditure of €1.9 million and at the time of the liquidation had outstanding project commitments of €4.1 million which are now being dealt with by the contiguous LDCs.

In late 2011 the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% for the Axes 3 and 4 elements (LEADER) of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013. Prior to this the Axes 3 and 4 RDP measures were co-funded at a rate of 55% by the EU, with the remaining 45% coming from national exchequer sources. The 2011 agreement reduced the national exchequer input to 15% on a net basis for 2012 and 2013 without a concomitant increase in the amount of funding to be provided by the EU. This resulted in a reduction in the overall Programme complement from €427m to approximately €314m on the basis of the Programme achieving full spend by the end of 2013.

In this context the original project allocations given to each Local Development Company (LDC) contracted to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP including MFG required readjustment.  My Department is currently determining the level of project commitments across all LDCs and all RDP measures in order to complete the rebalancing of the programme in as equitable a way as possible.  In addition, given the levels of spending by the LDCs from 2009 to date it is very unlikely that full spend will be achieved by the end of 2013. The co-funding rate will revert to 55% for all expenditure beyond the end of 2013 and as a consequence of this the overall Programme requirement will also change. Until such time as the rebalancing exercise as outlined has been satisfactorily completed it is not possible to be definitive regarding the remaining funding available for project commitments for any areas covered by the RDP, including Gaeltacht areas. I expect this exercise to be completed shortly.