The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, has described the findings of the first six-monthly Progress Report on the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development as “extremely encouraging” but cautioned that there is “no room for complacency” in ensuring that the commitments in the Action Plan are delivered. The Action Plan, launched in January 2017, contains 276 actions for delivery across Government, State agencies and other bodies over the next three years to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland.
The Report outlines the progress in relation to all the actions due for implementation in the first six-months of the Action Plan and shows that delivery is well on track. Of the 276 Actions in the Action Plan, 227 were either due for delivery in the first half of 2017, or highlighted activity taking place in the first half of 2017. 220 of these 227 actions were either completed on schedule or are in progress. A further seven actions due for delivery in the first half of 2017 were delayed.
Speaking today, Minister Ring said: “Having been involved in the creation of the Action Plan for Rural Ireland, I know how ambitious it is and so I am delighted to see that so much progress has been made right across the five pillars of the Plan. The high delivery rate of these actions provides a clear demonstration of the commitment across Government to supporting the development of our rural communities. It is the combined impact of these actions which will make a difference for rural Ireland.
“However we still have a long way to go to fully deliver on our commitments to improve the lives of people living and working in rural Ireland. There is certainly no room for complacency but this Progress Report shows that we are moving in the right direction.
“I am delighted that we have such a high delivery rate for the goals set out in the Action Plan. These goals are significant and their implementation represents real progress on the ground in our rural communities. For example:
- The Outdoor Recreation Scheme, which is providing €11.4 million to 219 projects to enhance outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas
- Advance buildings in Sligo, Tralee and Castlebar have been completed by the IDA future technology or life sciences projects
- The CLÁR Programme, which in 2017 is providing €7 million for 231 projects to support disadvantaged rural communities
- The development of the Royal Canal Blueway and the completion of the Lough Allen boardwalk, both with funding from my Department
- The Towns and Village Renewal Scheme, which is having a transformative impact on rural towns and villages. In 2016 the scheme delivered €9.88 million to 172 projects.
- €9 million has been provided to 56 arts and culture centres around Ireland
- 23 new localised transport links have been established this year to help people in remote areas access their local towns and villages
He continued “In my new role as Minister for Rural and Community Development, I intend to take a pro-active approach to the challenges facing rural Ireland. My Department is leading the co-ordination and implementation of the Action Plan and I am engaging with my fellow Ministers to ensure that their Departments deliver on the Government’s commitment to improve the lives of those living and working in rural Ireland.
Despite the tangible progress already achieved in the implementation of actions to date, the Minister emphasised his commitment to ensure strict and effective monitoring the impact of the Action Plan on rural areas. “We need to be able to measure the impact that that the actions are having on rural Ireland – both socially and economically. To that end, my Department is examining mechanisms to enable us to identify the impact of measures implemented as part of the Action Plan. This will allow us to scale up successful initiatives and divert resources away from those which have not worked as well.”View Full Article