Deputy Niall Collins: Some €270m earmarked for vital rural projects has remained unspent as of end of August
DEPUTY Niall Collins said the latest information collated by Fianna Fáil on key rural schemes shows why the Fine Gael led Government is “failing miserably to deliver for rural Ireland”.
Latest parliamentary question replies show €270m on vitally important rural schemes administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development has remained unspent as of the end of August, said the TD.
“These include the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure scheme; Town and Village Renewal scheme; CLÁR, the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS), the Rural Regeneration fund and LEADER.
“Taking funds allocated to key schemes over the 2017-2019 period, there is an underspend of €111m alone. In the region of €56m still remains on departmental funds allocated to the Town and Village Renewal scheme and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme going back two years,” said Deputy Collins. Yet, the numbers get worse, he said.
“The much-heralded Rural Regeneration fund was launched 14 months ago with €52m allocated for 2019. To date, just €4.1m in project funding released by the Department, representing an underspend of 92%.
“There are just 16 months remaining in the current 2014-2020 LEADER programme which is a key Rural Development Programme. However, despite €250m allocated to the seven-year programme, €159m remains unspent or 72% of total funds. This massive underspend is a bitter indictment of Fine Gael’s stewardship of the Rural Department and key schemes to fund capital infrastructural projects in rural communities,” he concluded.