Varadkar and Ring announce rural regeneration applicants

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, have announced the first batch of successful applicants for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

The purpose of the €1 billion fund is, according to the Government, to “breathe new life” into smaller towns and villages across the country.

Varadkar and Ring – along with Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development – outlined the scale and aims of the fund at an event in Co. Sligo.

According to them, the plan will target rural communities, with populations of less than 10,000, over the course of the next 10 years.

The plan is part of the wider Project Ireland 2040 initiative for rural redevelopment, and it’s claimed that the plan will rejuvenate smaller towns, villages and rural areas, create jobs in these areas, and improve quality of life for the people living there.

Over 209 potential projects applied for funding, but in the end, only 18 were chosen to be the first to avail of the €55 million funding for 2019.

The successful projects include:

  • Transforming a Kinsale, Co. Cork heritage building into a public library;
  • A national centre of excellence in surfing in Strandhill, Co. Sligo;
  • Converting the trans-Atlantic cable station on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry into a museum;
  • Restoring the Borris railway viaduct in Co. Carlow;
  • Restoring Swan Park in Buncrana, Co. Donegal after last year’s flood damage.

“The €1 billion Rural Fund will enable towns, villages and outlying rural areas to grow sustainably. It’s all about making Rural Ireland a more attractive place to stay, move into or run a business,” said the Taoiseach.

Varadkar also admitted that he was “struck by the dynamism of the ideas that were submitted”.