Forum Connemara
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Rural Development Programme (LEADER)

LEADER 2014-2020.
LEADER will provide €3.45 million in financial resources to rural communities in Connemara up to 2020.


The LEADER programme (an acronym in French meaning Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is a European Union initiative to support rural development projects initiated at the local level in order to revitalise rural areas and create jobs.

It is part of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for Ireland 2014-2020 and funded in part through the Common Agricultural Policy and national exchequer.


In the Irish context, LEADER is included under priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) the main aim of which is:

"Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas."

The programme is split into a number of themes and sub-themes that reflect the overarching needs of rural Ireland. They reflect the key challenges facing rural Ireland, with regard to economic recovery, employment creation, tackling social exclusion and reducing the impact of global warming and resource depletion.

Theme 1: Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation

Sub Themes:

  • Rural Tourism
  • Enterprise Development
  • Rural Towns
  • Broadband

Theme 2: Social Inclusion

Sub Themes:

  • Basic Services Targeted at Hard to Reach Communities
  • Rural Youth

Theme 3: Rural Environment

Sub Themes:

  • Protection and Sustainable Use of Water Resources
  • Protection and Improvement of Local Biodiversity
  • Development of Renewable Energy

In the local context, LEADER is delivered thorough a 'Community-Led Local Development' (CLLD) approach which is underpinned by a Local Development Strategy (LDS). This LDS was the basis on which the funding was initally allocated.

FORUM submitted a Local Development Strategy as part of the application process to become a delivery agent for the new programme in 2016. This followed extensive community and stakeholder consultations carried out over 2015/2016 and a strategic planning process that included an analysis of relevant socio-economic data and a review of current service provision in the region.

All funding decisions taken by FORUM are underpinned by the LDS objectives and priorities.


LEADER 2014-2020
In a change to the way the programme was delivered previously, applications will now be processed using a two staged 'Time-Limited Call' approach.

Stage 1 – Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI's)

Stage 2 – Application stage: Those successful at EOI stage (i.e. the project concerned is an eligible activity and is in line with the LDS) will be eligible to submit an application as part of the second stage of the targeted Time-Limited Call.

The submission of an Expression of Interest Form is the first step in applying for LEADER Funding. Please ensure that you are aware of the deadline dates for Expressions of Interest.

Time-Limited Calls will be widely publicised, e.g. on the FORUM website, social media, at information meetings and/or in the local media.

The most recent funding calls and applicable dates are: