A new Government plan reflecting changes in living and working patterns during Covid-19 will maximise the recovery for all parts of our country including rural towns and villages in Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and North Roscommon The Minister for State at the Department of Health and local Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan has said.
Minister Feighan said the plan, called Our Rural Future, is the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in decades.
He stated “The policy reflects the unprecedented change in living and working patterns during Covid-19 and the significant opportunities this presents for rural communities – from remote working and revitalising our town centres in in Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and North Roscommon to job creation, developing a green economy and enhancing our outdoor amenities.
“Our Rural Future sets out a blueprint for the development of rural Ireland over the next five years and is supported by 150 commitments across Government, which will address the challenges facing communities and deliver new opportunities for people living in rural areas.
“The policy complements, and will support, the delivery of other Government strategies and initiatives such as Project Ireland 2040, the Climate Action Plan, the forthcoming National Economic Recovery Plan, the National Broadband Plan, the National Remote Working Strategy and the Town Centre First Initiative.
“For decades, we have seen global trends where young people leave their local communities to live and work in larger cities. As we emerge from COVID-19 we will never have a better opportunity to reverse that long-standing trend.
“The move to remote working, underpinned by the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, has the potential to transform rural Ireland like never before.
“It will allow people to work from their own local communities to revitalise our town centres, reduce commuting times, lower transport emissions and most importantly – improve the quality of life of our people.”
“Our Rural Future will also support the recovery of our Tourism and Hospitality sector, create jobs in the Green Economy and the Agri-food sector and make it easier to establish and grow a business in Rural Ireland.
“We will also assist rural businesses to diversify into new sectors and markets by taking advantage of high-speed broadband and new technologies.”
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys said: “Our Rural Future represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development for Ireland.
“As we recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine rural Ireland and harness the talent, skills and creativity running through our rural communities.”
An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said: “The Government’s ambition is to have more people working in all parts of Ireland, with access to quality employment and good careers.
“Remote working presents an opportunity for people to live and work in rural Ireland, no matter where their employer is based.”
The plan has also been welcomed by Senator Murphy and Deputy Naughten.