The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has responsibility for promoting and facilitating long-term economic and social progress across rural Ireland. The Department is responsible for co-ordinating the Action Plan for Rural Development. Other key areas of responsibility include the implementation of the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and the delivery of a range of other schemes,
including a Rural Recreation Scheme, the Rural Walks Scheme, a Town and Village Enhancement scheme and the CLÁR Programme. The development of the Post Office network and preparing for the timely roll-out of broadband are also key priorities.
Action Plan for Rural Development
Realising our Rural Potential, the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, aims to unlock the enormous potential of Ireland’s rural communities to improve the lives of those living and working in rural areas.
Through a framework of supports at national and local level, the Action Plan takes a coordinated approach across Government to both the economic and social development of rural Ireland. The Plan covers a three-year period and contains a series of time-bound actions which will be monitored and reported on regularly.
Supporting Sustainable Communities
Actions under this Pillar recognise that our rural communities need to be places where people can live, work and raise their families in a high quality environment.
The implementation of initiatives such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, together with targeted initiatives to empower local rural communities and enhance local services, will and make rural Ireland a better place in which to live and work.
Supporting Enterprise and Employment
The aim of this Pillar is to support job creation throughout Ireland, and grow and attract enterprises, from start-ups businesses through to foreign direct investment companies. There is huge potential across rural Ireland to create new employment opportunities, including in sectors such as Agri-food, Marine, Financial Services and other new industries.
Actions under this Pillar will support the enterprise and jobs potential of rural Ireland and will also assist job-seekers and deliver the skills necessary to meet the needs of industry.
Maximising our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential
There are huge opportunities in rural Ireland to maximise the potential of our natural resources and our built heritage to support economic development. Actions under this Pillar will support sustainable jobs through targeted tourism initiatives, promoting Activity Tourism, and developing and promoting our natural and built heritage, including in Gaeltacht areas.
Fostering Culture and Creativity in Rural Communities
The Government’s Creative Ireland legacy programme will underpin strategies to greatly improve access to arts and cultural events and facilities for residents of rural areas, and to promote the Irish language as a key cultural resource.
Improving Rural Infrastructure and Connectivity
Connectivity, whether through transport links or digital connectivity, is hugely important for people who live and work in rural areas. The Action Plan for Rural Development recognises and addresses this.
A key objective for the Government is to deliver high speed broadband to every premises in the country. This is being done on a phased basis through the National Broadband Plan, and will open up new economic opportunities for rural-based entrepreneurs, as well as improving social connections. Improving transport links and investment in flood defence measures in rural Ireland are also priorities under this Pillar.