The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring 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 on.
In addition he says he is working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland in delivering jobs in rural areas.
The Action Plan was launched in January of this year (2017), and 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.
Today’s report outlines the progress in relation to all the actions due for implementation in the first six-months of the Action Plan and, according to government, shows that delivery is on track. Of the 276 Actions in the Action Plan, 202 were either due for delivery in the first half of 2017, or highlighted activity taking place in the first half of 2017. Exactly 195 of these 202 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 to Midwest News the Minister cited a number of the targets delivered on
· 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, 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 admitted however, that no jobs have yet been created at any of the three IDA Advance buildings listed. He also conceded that areas of rural Ireland remain blackspots for mobile phone coverage, but said he had spoken to the providers and they say they cannot secure sites for additional masts. He called on anyone in a blackspot that has a site available to contact him.
The Minister also insists extensive work is underway in delivering broadband to all rural areas.