LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a budget of €250 million over the period 2014-2020.
€220 million of this funding was allocated to the 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme in LEADER areas across the country. The remaining €30 million was allocated for projects which are approved at a national level.
I recently allocated an additional €5 million, originally earmarked for a national scheme, to the top 10 LAGs who were most advanced in their delivery of the LEADER programme. Each of these 10 LAGs was allocated €500,000.
The increased allocations were based on an analysis of the level of funding the LAGs had committed to projects, and the amount drawn down by these projects, as of 20 September, 2019. The LAGs were advised of the selection criteria in early July, when the proposed reallocation was announced.
The additional funding is to be allocated by the LAGs in the same manner as their existing project budget. The only condition attached to this extra funding by my Department is that it must be allocated to projects that are approved by the LAG after 1st October 2019.
My Department has no role in the awarding of LEADER funding to any particular project applicants. It is entirely a matter for the relevant LAG to approve a project once it is compatible with the LAG's Local Development Strategy and complies with the EU Regulations and the LEADER 2014-2020 Operating Rules.