6 November 2015
By Bryan Smyth
FOI material released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Fianna Fáil election candidate for Cork South-West (Cork County Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony) has revealed that Cork has been double hit by cuts to the Leader programme. County Cork received around €54m from 2007-2014 but this was slashed by 74% to €13.9m.
The FOI documents show that Cork was originally considered for €20m under the scheme on the basis of population but eventually ended up with just €13.9m when the criteria was changed. In addition, Cork was sub-divided into three separate regions but did not receive the €3m minimum for each region that all other sub-regional areas were allocated. These cuts were on top of the 33% reduction in LEADER funding under this government.
Commenting on the FOI material Councillor Murphy O’Mahony stated that
“It’s clear from the FOI material I have received that Cork has been hit hardest by the government’s LEADER cutbacks. The dramatic 74% reduction is the biggest seen across the country, the original criteria considered was changed to the disadvantage of Cork and then the agreed criteria was not evenly applied at Cork’s expense. Cork was divided into sub regions but then did not receive the minimum allocation that all other sub regions received. There are serious questions over why the government penalised Cork.”
“LEADER Companies play a vital role in rural communities across Cork. Organisations such as the West Cork Development Partnership work hard at developing local tourism initiatives, promoting enterprise and developing community facilities. Government cutbacks and deeply unfair funding are hitting West Cork hard.
“West Cork needs a TD in the next Dáil that will fight and deliver for our communities. We had three Government TDs in Cork South-West and they have failed to protect vital LEADER funding from severe cuts,”
Cllr O’Mahony stated.