Pictured at the recent signing of contracts for the North Cork LEADER Programme were: standing l-r: Mr Aidan Gleeson, Ballyhoura Development CLG; Mr Seán Hegarty Avondhu Blackwater Partnership CLG; Mr Niall Healy, Cork County Council; Ms Valerie Murphy, Avondhu-Blackwater Partnership CLG; Mr Tom Stritch, Cork County Council; Mr Pádraig Casey, Ballyhoura Development CLG. Seated, l-r: Cllr Gerard Murphy, Chair North Cork LAG; Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. (Photo: Brian Mulligan)

The  North Cork Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) – a Committee of Cork County Council – has been confirmed as the new LEADER Local Action Group (LAG) for North Cork with the programme officially commencing on Thursday, December 1st.

The new group – branded ‘LEADER North Cork’ – will manage the allocation of €5.1 million in LEADER funding across North Cork for the period 2016-2020. In addition, Cork County Council will provide a supplementary Community Development Initiative Fund of just under €1.3m to support the programme which will bring the total funding available to communities in North Cork to just under €6.4 million.

The programme will be rolled out by a consortium of the North Cork LAG and the three incumbent local development companies operating in the North Cork Council division, namely; Avondhu-Blackwater Partnership CLG, Ballyhoura Development CLG and IRD Duhallow CLG.

The LEADER Programme supports local and community projects across a diverse range of themes including rural tourism, enterprise development, rural towns, access to broadband, basic services targeted at hard-to-reach communities, rural youth, protection and sustainable use of water resources, protection and improvement of local biodiversity, and development of renewable energy. The programme is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Chairman of LEADER North Cork, Cllr Gerard Murphy commended the Group, its three implementing partners, and Cork County Council for the fresh and innovative approach that it has developed for the rollout of LEADER in the region, saying “The available budget is greatly reduced from previous LEADER programmes.  However there is a sense of real urgency in rolling out the new programme. Communities have been cut-off from LEADER funding over recent years and there is a pipeline of projects ready to be assessed. Communities can be assured of the determination of LEADER North Cork to issue contracts for available funding as speedily as possible”.

Councillor Murphy said that LEADER provides a real opportunity to invest in local communities in North Cork and that he is “looking forward to seeing a continuation of the great work that has been carried out under previous LEADER programmes by the existing Local Development Companies albeit this time around with an overall significantly reduced budget.”

Contact details, application forms and all the latest LEADER news and are available to view on www.leadernorthcork.com