Despite what a leading Galway TD has called “a last minute spending spree” towards the end of 2017, €19 million of funds allocated to the Department of Rural and Community Development remains unspent.
The Department, and its Minister, Dep Michael Ring, have come in for criticism from Éamon Ó Cuív, the Galway West TD and Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs, for failing to spend 11.6 per cent of the €163 million it was allocated last year.
While Dep Ó Cuív said he would be questioning Minister Ring “as to how such an underspend was allowed to happen”, he added that the “underspend comes as no surprise”, saying it was “evident in the replies I was receiving from the Minister and his officials”, and that if it was not for the late approval for the Local Improvement Scheme, “the underspend would have been much more significant”.
The Cornamona based TD said the unspent €19 million could have been divided into €11 million for infrastructure projects in rural areas, with the remaining €8 million used to cover “day to day spending”.
“This Government repeatedly claims that it has not enough money to provide services and basic infrastructure, so it is difficult to understand how Minister Ring can fail to spend such a high percentage of the budget in any one year,” said Dep Ó Cuív. “It is absolutely imperative the Minister lays out clearly how he intends spending the money allocated to him this year, as well as the carryover of €7.7m in capital, being brought forward from 2017.”