On February 14, 2019, Michael Ring TD, Ireland‘s Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced 66 projects that will be allocated funding totalling €62 million under the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, a key component of Project Ireland 2040.
Minister Ring said, “This Fund is a clear demonstration of Project Ireland 2040 in action and is further evidence of this Government’s commitment to rural communities. These investments will have a transformative effect on many rural towns, villages and outlying areas. These projects are ambitious and strategic in nature. The funding will transform communities by delivering projects in sectors such as tourism, agri-food and recreation. After today, every county in the country will be benefiting from the Rural Fund.”
“I believe that it is vital that we continue to build resilience in rural communities and make our towns and villages vibrant places for families to live. It is also particularly appropriate, with Brexit approaching, that we continue to strengthen the rural economy and support sustainable development. The projects that this fund supports are targeting areas where they can have the greatest economic and social impact. Today’s announcement represents the culmination of the first call under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. We have had a phenomenal level of interest and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all of those that were successful. For those who have been unsuccessful, my Department will provide feedback to enable them to prepare for the next call for proposals later this year,” he added.
With this announcement, following on from the first announcement in Sligo last year, 84 projects so far have been allocated a total of €86 million funding for rural regeneration and development. This will be leveraged with a further €31 million in matched funding being provided by state-funded bodies. This represents a total investment of €117 million in projects, which will deliver for rural communities across the country.
The announcement took place in the Íontas Arts Centre, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, where Minister Ring was joined by Heather Humphreys TD, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development.
Minister Canney welcomed the collaborative approach to delivering rural redevelopment by saying, ““The Rural Fund encourages joined-up thinking involving collaboration between Government Departments, Local Authorities, public bodies, and rural stakeholders. The projects announced today will bring about real and tangible benefits for rural communities and the regions.”
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund aims to revitalize rural Ireland by supporting self-sustaining projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000.
The successful applications for funding included:
- The regeneration of Athenry Town, including the completion of the existing Bia Innovator Campus, driving entrepreneurship opportunities;
- A national mountain-biking project that will develop recreational facilities in four locations across seven counties, promoting economic tourism potential;
- The development of a major tourism and amenity attraction at the site of Granard Motte, a national monument on the outskirts of Granard;
- A new community-run Enterprise Centre, adjacent to Castlebayney Town Centre, providing high quality office space on a disused site, facilitating economic development in the regions;
- Boyle Town regeneration project which will help to generate employment potential, and also delivers significant public realm improvement for the community in the area; and
- A town regeneration project for Thomastown, Kilkenny. This includes the renovation of the former court house into a Craft and Design Centre, in conjunction with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland.
Minister Humphreys explained, “Without a doubt, this funding will support job creation and encourage entrepreneurship right across the country. It also promotes balanced regional development and ensures that opportunity is shared all over Ireland. In 2018, the IDA created more jobs outside of Dublin than at any point in the last 17 years. Indeed almost 60% of all IDA employment and two-thirds of Enterprise Ireland employment is now outside of Dublin and, earlier today, I announced the 2018 results for the Local Enterprise Offices which shows strong jobs growth in every county.”
“Through the Project Ireland 2040 Funds and our new Regional Enterprise Plans, we now have a range of sustainable supports available that can help us to ensure that these positive trends continue. I would like to join Minister Ring in congratulating the successful projects announced today,” he added.
Featured photo of house in Mayo, Ireland via Adobe Stock.