Over 270 coastal projects have been awarded grants totalling four million euro in EU and State funds just five days before the European Parliament elections.
The grants to 274 projects across seven coastal regions were announced yesterday by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Michael Creed, who said the initiative supported total investment of €6.4 million.
Almost 400 applications were made for this year’s scheme, co-financed by the EU’s Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Government.
The EMFF has a budget of 12 million euro over six years for projects which would encourage fishing communities hit by quota restrictions and other challenges to diversify.
Applications are assessed by seven regional fisheries local action group boards (FLAGs) and forwarded to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
Many of the projects had been signed off by FLAG boards from mid-March, but a spokesman for Mr Creed denied earlier this month that the final announcement was being delayed to time in with the European election campaign.
Members of several FLAGS had said that there was considerable frustration over a “long wait”, and a belief that this was influenced by the European election date of May 24th.
A total of 3,977, 723 euro has been awarded to 47 FLAG-approved projects in the north region, 42 in the north-west, 36 in the north-east, 62 in the west region, 41 in the south-east, 29 in the south, and 17 in the south-west.
“Ireland’s seven FLAGs are providing a wonderful source of investment for local seafood and marine projects in our coastal communities,” Mr Creed said yesterday in a statement.
“Over 800 projects in seven coastal regions have benefitted from EMFF funding since the present FLAG scheme was launched in 2017,” he said, adding that the “high number of successful projects funded this year reflects both the quality ... and the hard work of the local communities through the seven FLAG Boards.”