Funding announced for rural projects will ‘contribute to long-awaited balanced development’

The Irish Rural Link has welcomed the announcement of funding of over €15.4 million under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, saying it will “contribute to the long-awaited balanced regional development”.

The national network that represents the interest of rural communities has welcomed Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys’ announcement today (Friday, January 8), which will assist towns and villages to implement measures that can help them to respond to the challenges associated with Covid-19.

Also Read: Rural towns and villages receive funding for cycleways and local projects

The network says that the funding will help rural communities continue to develop their local areas and make them “more habitable places to live and work”.

“We welcome that a number of the projects that will be funded under this money are to develop digital and co-working hubs,” the network says.

“Irish Rural Link [has] supported and promoted the development of digital hubs and co-working spaces for a number of years.

Due to Covid-19, many of us have had to adapt to a new way of working. What seemed impossible for many employees, who were commuting long distance to work each day, working from home suddenly became the new norm.

“While there can be a number of challenges for people working from home, these co-working spaces can provide office facilities while allowing people work close to where they live.

“Also, the spill-over effect from the hubs can benefit other local businesses and contribute to the long-awaited balanced regional development.”

‘Why not allow young people to stay in their own communities?’

Speaking to AgriLand recently, Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link said that the lack of young people living in rural areas is hugely linked rural isolation and other issues.

“We are a very well-educated country, so why not allow young, educated people to stay in their communities, if they wish?

“We now have an opportunity to bring jobs home into the more rural parts – we have seen that people can work from home successfully when given the means and are supported in doing so.

“More local hubs specially designed for this are necessary. We must grab that opportunity.

That means attracting the big companies – various financial institutions – to bring centres to other areas or, instead of people being confined to the IFSC [International Financial Services Centre], which is overpopulated, allow them to work from where they wish.

“This, in turn, will help the smaller businesses and those trying to survive in rural Ireland – it will keep people in the area to support them.

“At the moment, there isn’t really an option for many young people to stay.”

Minister Donohoe encourages businesses to avail of supports as further restrictions take effect

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is today encouraging businesses to avail of support schemes in place to reduce the impact of new public health restrictions.

“Due to the exponential growth in the virus seen over recent days and weeks, the government has taken the necessary step in introducing further public health restrictions to reduce the overall level of mobility across the country.

This will impact many thousands of employers in our economy and I would encourage all those impacted to avail of the range of business supports which have been put in place throughout the pandemic, to give businesses the best possible chance of getting through this difficult trading period.

“The government will continue to assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.”