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Leader/Rural Development Programme (RDP)

LEADER / Rural Development Programme (RDP)


The LEADER / Rural Development Programme is currently underway and will run from 2014-2020 with the aim of improving the quality of life in rural areas and to encourage diversification of economic activity in rural areas. It seeks to bring about positive change helping to support and sustain rural areas for the better.


The name LEADER comes from the French acronym, standing for ‘Liaison entre actions de développement de l'économie rurale’ meaning ‘links between the rural economy and development actions’.   Four previous versions of LEADER have been delivered since its launch in 1991.  The programme is a key funding pillar within the national Rural Development Programme and supports the delivery of local development actions in rural communities.

The LEADER Programmes brought about the inception of the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development in Ireland. It is supported by funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and is co-financed by the National Rural Development Programme.  The programme will facilitate the provision of supports to address some of the key challenges faced by the County following the economic downturn such as the impact of high levels of unemployment and an increase in levels of poverty and exclusion.



Aims of LEADER


The broad aims of LEADER are to promote the sustainable development of rural communities; to promote economic activity in rural areas and; to stimulate broader community initiatives aimed at improving the overall quality of life for rural dwellers.

The Rural Development Programme outlines a series of themes that were identified as overarching needs in rural Ireland.  These themes respond to 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.  These areas are:




Sub Themes


Economic Development, Enterprise Development and Job Creation

Rural Tourism

Enterprise Development

Rural Towns



Social Inclusion

Basic Services targeted at Hard to Reach Communities

Rural Youth


Rural Environment


Protection and sustainable use of water resources

Protection and improvement of local biodiversity

Development of renewable energy



Funding Allocation

In Ireland, a total of €235m (7% of the total RDP allocation) has been allocated to LEADER for the period 2014-2020. The allocation for Donegal under LEADER 2014-2020 is €12,913,877.86.


Donegal Local Community Development Committee Local Action Group (LCDC/LAG) submitted a Local Development Strategy for Donegal, which was approved by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government in July 2016.

The Local Development Strategy (LDS) includes objectives to support local actions relating to rural tourism, enterprise development, rural towns, 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 the development of renewable energy.

While final decisions on project funding will rest with the LCDC/ LAG, the LEADER programme in Donegal is being administered by four Implementing Partners and Expressions of Interest/Applications should be made to the respective geographical partner.  Calls under the “rolling” programme are currently being accepted by each partner at present.  These organisations will provide advice and support at a local level to groups and individuals seeking to develop projects.



The four implementing bodies in Donegal are:



  1. Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC)
  2. Inishowen Development Partnership
  3. Údarás na Gaeltachta
  4. Comhar na nOileán


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