The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday) published an Interim Progress Report on Realising our Rural Potential, the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development. The Minister has also launched a video to encourage communities nationwide to engage with 2017 Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which is making €20 million available for small rural towns. The video can be viewed here: INSERT LINK.
The Action Plan contains 276 actions for the delivery across Government, State agencies and other bodies over the next three years to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland. Each action has been assigned to a lead body which will be responsible for implementation of the action within a definite timescale.
Formal progress reports on the Action Plan will be published every 6 months, with the first report due to be published in July. Ahead of the first formal report, the Interim Progress Report outlines the achievements to date under the Plan and highlights some of the positive developments which have taken place to support rural Ireland.
Some key achievements across Government Departments since the Action Plan was launched include:
- 2017 Town and Village Renewal Scheme launched by Minister Humphreys with funding of €20 million over 15 months to support up to 300 towns and villages
- A Framework for Town Centre Revival launched by Minister Mitchell O’Connor, to assist with the regeneration of rural towns
- 2017 CLÁR programme launched by Minister of State Michael Ring, with funding of €5 million to support disadvantaged rural communities
- The Taoiseach and Minister Ring announced the establishment of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce to drive economic develop along the Eastern Seaboard
- Minister Varadkar announced an additional 500 places on the Rural Social Scheme in January 2017 and these places are being rolled out across the country
- A new €46km Greenway from Waterford to Dungarvan was opened in March, along the former Great Southern and Western Railway.
- Minister Naughten published the NBP Intervention Area map on 4th April and announced that eir will provide high speed broadband to an extra 300,000 premises on a commercial basis by end-2018, thereby accelerating the roll out to many rural premises
- Innovation hubs are now operational in the Donegal and Kerry Gaeltacht areas to support entrepreneurship and start-up companies
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“Work is well underway across a wide range of Government departments and agencies to deliver on the actions contained in the Action Plan for Rural Development, which will make a real difference to people who live and work in rural Ireland. This interim report provides a headline view of achievements to date just over three months into the implementation of the Action Plan.
“A key aspect of the Action Plan process is that actions will be closely monitored, to ensure they are delivered on time, for the benefit of rural communities. Through my own Department, I have already announced a series of initiatives, such as the enhanced €20 million Town & Village Renewal Scheme, that will have a positive and tangible impact on rural communities in the coming months. Today we are also launching a video to encourage communities to fully engage with their Local Authorities and bring forward ideas for their own rural town or village.
“I would like to thank my Government colleagues who have shown a willingness to fully engage with the Action Plan for Rural Development. The revitalisation is not the job of one government department or one minister; only through an all-of-government approach we will deliver real and lasting improvements for rural communities.”