APART from the fact that County Cork lost out badly in last month’s allocations under the 10-year €1bn Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, set up as part of Project Ireland 2040, there is justified concern that not enough funding generally is finding its way to projects in rural areas such as West Cork with only 20% of allocated LEADER funds spent to date.
It is ironic really that the current government, having created the first full ministry for Community and Rural Development with Michael Ring in charge, cannot seem to get funding filtering down quickly enough to where it is needed most. With the upcoming city boundary extension taking away some of the county’s territory and the spectre of Brexit also rearing its ugly head, rural areas face the greatest threat, so funding to support projects that can create badly-needed jobs to halt population decline and sustain communities is vital.
In an unprecedented statement, the Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, expressed his disappointment at the lack of successful outcomes for Cork County Council’s 48 applications for Rural Regeneration and Development Fund funding. Of the €62m worth of projects announced under the second round of funding, Cork County Council was granted just €276,000 – none of it for West Cork.
The County Mayor made the point that this is hugely disproportionate, particularly as his local authority’s area covers a population that is almost 10% of the entire country. This is also very frustrating for all the volunteers selflessly giving of their time and talents at the coalface of rural development projects in their communities.
If the government fails to oversee a balanced regional distribution of funding for rural areas, the people there will give them their answer at the ballot box come election time.