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Minister Humphreys announces plans to invest more than €28m

Published: 31st January 2017

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced that her Department will invest more than €28 million in towns, villages and rural recreation projects in 2017, as part of the Action Plan for Rural Development.

At least 200 towns and villages will benefit from the funding, which should help to unlock and leverage further investment in these areas. A further 100 projects will benefit from rural recreation funding, which will help to attract additional visitors to rural areas, as set out in the Action Plan. A variety of schemes will be opened in the coming months to directly benefit rural communities and heritage projects nationwide.

The following schemes will inject funding into rural Ireland throughout 2017:

  • €12 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme
  • €5 million CLÁR Programme
  • €2.8 million built heritage investment schemes
  • €1.3 million Heritage Council schemes
  • €7 million in support for rural recreation projects

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“I am prioritising the revitalisation of rural towns and villages through the Action Plan for Rural Development. If we are serious about rural regeneration, we must start with our rural towns. The schemes which will be co-run by my Department, Local Authorities and the Heritage Council this year will provide direct funding to rural towns and villages to improve public areas, invest in heritage buildings and support innovative local projects.

“Our towns and villages are the heart of our rural communities, but many of them are still recovering from the economic downturn. By improving the appearance and public amenities in our town and village centres, we can help to make them more attractive places in which to work, to live and to visit.

“I am taking a community-led approach to rural development. My Department will be working very closely with Local Authorities in the coming months to identify projects which will have a positive impact on rural towns and villages. Investing in heritage buildings forms an important element of my plan, because well maintained and actively used historic buildings contribute positively to the vitality of our towns and villages.

“Under the Action Plan, we want to increase the number of visitors to rural areas by 12%. Making our towns and villages more attractive places to visit will be a very important part of that plan and so too is supporting and encouraging rural reaction. That is why my colleague, Michael Ring TD, Minister for Regional Economic Development, will be providing €7 million in support for rural recreation projects in 2017. Minister Ring will also administer the CLÁR programme, which provides funding for small infrastructure projects in rural areas.

“I will also be working with my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, in the coming months to introduce a range of initiatives which will encourage more people to live in rural towns and villages. In addition, €40 million provided under the LEADER programme will support up to 1,000 community-led projects in rural areas. Through this co-ordinated approach, we will help to breathe fresh life back in rural communities nationwide.”

Speaking today CEO of the Heritage Council, Michael Starret said:

“The potential offered by heritage led regeneration in rural Ireland is immense and the Heritage Council looks forward to expanding its partnership with Local Authorities through these initiatives. The Heritage Officer Network will play a key part as will an expanded network for towns and villages and a new one for Irish Uplands. The Minister is to be congratulated for affording us this opportunity.”

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