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Irish councils in the doghouse over rural development underspend

Words: Roger Milne

Local authority underspending on a number of key rural development programmes has become a matter of concern for the Irish Government with the media reporting that some 40 per cent of the nearly €30 million allocated to be used by the end of last year remains in council bank accounts.

An internal government report, seen and quoted by the Irish Independent, revealed how a raft of councils are sitting on money earmarked for four initiatives.

The schemes, all administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development, are: The Rural Recreation Scheme, The Clár programme, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the grant scheme known as RedZ (Rural Economic Development Zone).

According to the paper Offaly is the worst offender, having spent just 18 per cent of its allocated funding, followed by Cork (21 per cent), Kilkenny (41 per cent), Westmeath (42 per cent) and Donegal (42 per cent). 

“Counties Wicklow, Leitrim and Kildare have also spent less than half of their allocated spend. Carlow and Louth are the most effective counties with their respective local authorities having spent 84 per cent of their funding,” reported the Independent.

In a statement sent to The Planner, the department confirmed: “There is some concern regarding the level of spend by local authorities in a number of counties. 

“Community and rural affairs minister Michael Ring is looking at ways to ensure that monies allocated by his department are spent without undue delay so that the benefit of these investments can be reaped by rural communities.”

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