The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has announced that over 1,500 projects have now been approved under the new LEADER Programme.

In total, over €50 million has now been awarded to LEADER projects over the past year and a half. The amount of funding allocated to-date in 2018, at €34 million, is more than double the amount allocated in 2017. The €50 million refers to amounts awarded to LEADER projects. This funding is drawn down as community groups and rural businesses implement their respective projects.

Minister Ring said: “Behind each of these 1,500 projects is a community group or a small rural business committed to their local community and their local economy. For example, Bó Rua Farm in Ballynoe, Co Cork was allocated €150,000 under the LEADER programme to fund the construction of a farmhouse cheese dairy. This will allow the owners to scale up and commercialise their farmhouse cheese utilising their Montbeliarde cows whose milk is used in traditional French cheese production. This project will deliver an innovative new rural business which has the potential to create jobs”.

The LEADER projects are supporting about 1,100 community organisations and 400 rural businesses. Over 1,000 of the projects involve investment in areas such as construction and renovation costs, or the purchase of equipment. The remainder involve training courses, marketing supports and funding for the analysis and development work that underpins new products, services and community supports.

Businesses and communities interested in accessing assistance under the LEADER Programme should, in the first instance, contact their Local Action Group. Minister Ring said: “The LEADER Local Action Groups in each area are there to assist all current and future applicants. I would encourage other groups and businesses to talk to the representatives from their local group to see how LEADER can be of benefit to them”.

Contact details for LAGs are available from the DRCD’s List of LAGs.

An interactive map featuring all LAGs can be found in the LEADER section of the NRN website: www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/leader-map