Taoiseach joins Ministers Ring and Creed to herald an exciting period ahead for rural communities and economies 

Published 13 July 2018

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, T.D., and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., have today, together with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., hailed the vast potential in rural communities to continue to develop and contribute to Ireland’s future, at a rural forum event held in Westport, Co Mayo.

The Project Ireland 2040 -themed event is based around the National Planning Framework Strategic Outcome of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities, which focuses on balancing regional growth and investment in rural regeneration.

A key commitment of Project Ireland 2040 is the provision of a new €1 billion over the period 2019-2027 through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which will provide investment to support rural renewal for suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas.

The forum, themed “Creating Stronger Rural Economies and Communities”, was co-hosted by the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and featured panel discussions and a keynote address from An Taoiseach.

Speaking at the event, the Taoiseach said: “Project Ireland 2040 is our plan to rebalance growth outside of our main urban centres and ensure that every part of the country benefits from prosperity in the years ahead. Improvements to Ireland’s road network, improved international air connectivity and better broadband, as planned under Project Ireland 2040, offer new opportunities for rural Ireland.

Minister Ring addresses forum on Creating Stronger Rural Economies and Communities

“Continuing to support ongoing rural development and the agri-food sector is a priority for this Government.  We want to strengthen Ireland’s rural fabric and support the communities who live there by planning for the future growth and development of rural areas, with a special focus on the renewal and development of smaller towns and villages.

“This Government has set ambitious targets for rural areas.  We will help create an additional 135,000 jobs outside the Dublin region by 2020, and revitalise over 600 towns and villages. We will support more than 4,000 new community projects, double investment in flood relief works by 2021, and ensure that all homes and businesses are connected to high-speed broadband. I believe that Project Ireland 2040 will maximise rural Ireland’s potential for current and future generations.”

Minister Ring said: “There was a great sense at today’s forum of the progress and potential in rural communities, and also of the challenges. Rural Ireland is a dynamic, modern, and essential part of the national economy. The National Planning Framework recognises that three quarters of new population growth will be outside Dublin, with 50% of the projected population growth planned for our towns, villages and rural areas, and 84% of all new jobs are currently going to people living outside the capital.”

Minister Ring added: “The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which I opened for applications last week, provides an unprecedented opportunity to support the revitalisation of rural Ireland, to make a significant and sustainable impact on rural communities, and to address de-population in small rural towns, villages and rural areas.”

Minister Creed said: “Today’s event reaffirmed this Government’s commitment to rural Ireland and in particular to the continued development of the agri-food sector. This sector remains our most important indigenous industry and contributes €26 billion to our economy and connects rural Ireland to the world. Investment under Project Ireland 2040 will lead to new jobs, new exports and new and diverse opportunities for rural communities, particularly supporting the farmers, fishermen, forest owners and business owners throughout the country who contribute so much to the social and economic fabric of the country.”


Editor’s note: 

The event is based around the National Planning Framework Strategic Outcome of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities, with the theme of the Forum being “Creating Stronger Rural Economies and Communities”.  It is being co-hosted by Ministers Ring and Creed.  Minister of State Sean Kyne will also be in attendance and participating in the event.

The forum is based around two panel discussions, preceded by a keynote address from the Taoiseach.  The panel discussions, based on the theme of the event, will explore:

  1. How do we create stronger rural communities, and
  2. How do we create stronger rural economies?

Project Ireland 2040 is building on the progress already achieved through implementation of the following Government strategies:

Realising Our Rural Potential – Action Plan for Rural Development, which focuses on supporting enterprise and employment in rural areas, improving infrastructure and connectivity, and supporting sustainable rural communities;

The Government’s Tourism Policy, “People, Place and Policy Growing Tourism to 2025” and subsequent Tourism Action Plan 2016-2018, which recognise the important contribution of tourism to the economy, and the significant investment in the development of tourism projects and attractions through Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Development & Innovation, A Strategy for Investment 2016-2022, including investment in the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East;

Our Communities: A Framework Policy for Local and Community Development in Ireland which sets out a vision of building vibrant, sustainable self-determining communities; and

Investment in the agri-food sector, including in schemes operated through the Rural Development Programme, Seafood Development Programme and Forestry Programme, which will empower rural communities and underpin the sustainable growth of the agri-food sector as set out in Food Wise 2025: A 10-year Vision for the Irish Agri-Food Industry.