A MAJOR bombshell was dropped this week when a County Council-backed local development committee was chosen to administer the latest round of Leader funding.
The West Cork Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) has been selected by an independent selection committee to become the Leader ‘Local Action Group’, otherwise known as LAG.
LAG chairman Finbarr Harrington welcomed the news when it was announced on Friday, but Ian Dempsey, the chief executive officer of the West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP) – the organisation that had administered the Leader fund since its inception – was not available for comment.
An independent committee was tasked with evaluating the development strategy presented by the LCDC – which is a sub-committee of Cork County Council – and the development strategy presented by WCDP.
New laws pertaining to the administration of Local Government were passed in 2014 and under those laws the LCDC was established. However, WCDP sought to continue its role administering the Leader programme and applied for the opportunity to do so.
The independent committee informed both parties of its decision on Friday, thereby confirming that the LCDC will become the Local Action Group in West Cork and oversee the distribution of the Leader fund.
Between 2014 and 2020 Leader will have at its disposal €250m in financial resources, including a cumulative allocation of €13.9m for North, South and West Cork – of which €5.015m has been earmarked for West Cork.
Mr Harrington confirmed that the €5m fund for West Cork actually represents ‘a reduction of approximately 70% compared to the previous programme.’
However, he said he and his colleagues, together with the chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, would be petitioning the Department of Rural Development for additional funding.
Meanwhile, Mr Harrington welcomed the fact that Cork County Council has provided supplementary funding – to the tune of €1.25m, which represents a 25% top-up – to support the new Leader programme in West Cork.
It has also been confirmed that as part of the application process, West Cork Development Partnership is entitled to submit an appeal within 20 days of the announcement of the decision on Friday, June 24th.
There has been no indication if the decision will mean job losses at WCDP, and a representative of the organisation said they would not be issuing a statement until later this week.