The Chair of the Rural and Community Development Committee said €220 million in Budget 2018 funding will have a positive impact on people and families living in rural communities.
Clare TD Joe Carey said the funding will allow the new Department of Rural and Community Development to continue to invest in a wide range of schemes and programmes designed to improve the wellbeing and sustainability of communities and rural areas.
Deputy Carey said: “This is an opportunity to create more vibrant, inclusive communities and support people and families who live in rural Ireland.
“The new Department is unprecedented in its mandate and this increased Budget when put to use will have an extremely positive impact on people and families living and working in rural Ireland. As the impact of this funding is felt it will help to change the narrative around rural Ireland and local communities.
“The increase in the funding for the hugely popular Town and Village Renewal Scheme by €3 million to €15 million will benefit hundreds of rural communities around the country.
“Since its introduction last year this scheme has generated huge positivity and has had a tangible impact on hundreds of rural towns and villages and the people and families who live in or near them.
“As I said when I was appointed chair of the Committee, it is critical for our country’s future that the imbalance created by a dominant Dublin is tackled through complementary regional and rural polices designed to create a counter balance to the capital.
“Budget 2018 will ensure that the benefits of the recovery will be targeted at helping rural Ireland play an active role in the nation’s future growth.
“Funding for the Outdoor Recreation Scheme will be increased by nearly €4 million to almost €11.4 million. This scheme will provide excellent outdoor amenities such as greenways for local people and families to use and which can attract visitors and jobs into local areas.
“The €10 million allocated to Local Improvement Schemes will provide help improve small private roads, laneways and boreens which don’t come under the control of local authorities and which give access to homes, farmyards, agricultural land and business premises.
“There will be a total of €35 million available for projects under the LEADER programme in 2018. This programme is a huge player in the life of rural communities and I am glad that the Government continues to recognise the need for this vital support to life in rural Ireland.
“I am delighted that the Community Services Programme (CSP) has been incorporated into the Department of Rural and Community Development.
“The CSP has a budget of €46.2 million which supports community businesses that deliver services and create employment for people from disadvantaged groups. The CSP currently supports 425 community companies and co-operatives in communities where services are lacking or where demands not being met by existing services. I thank Minister Doherty for facilitating the transfer of this programme to my Department.
“The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), the largest social inclusion intervention of its kind in the State, is being supported through an allocation of some €43.2million in 2018, an increase of €1 million.”