The economic and social development of rural Ireland is a key priority in the Programme for a Partnership Government. In order to progress this priority, I was assigned responsibility for coordinating and prioritising the work across Government Departments which impacts on rural Ireland. The Programme for Government also committed to establishing a clearing house forum to investigate the best ideas to advance economic and social progress in rural Ireland.
In this context, I recently published the Government's Action Plan for Rural Development which acts as an overarching structure for the co-ordination and implementation of initiatives right across Government which will benefit rural Ireland. In preparing the Action Plan, my Department conducted a series of consultations with stakeholders around the country to seek ideas from people in rural Ireland on how to tackle the issues of concern to them.
The Action Plan contains over 270 actions to be implemented by a range of Government Departments, agencies and other bodies to progress the economic and social development of rural Ireland. Implementation of the Action Plan will be overseen by a Monitoring Committee which I will be establishing shortly. The Monitoring Committee will include key stakeholders, Government Departments and experts in rural development. One of the tasks for this Committee will be to ensure that the Action Plan for Rural Development stays relevant and is informed by best practice nationally and internationally. The Committee will also help to identify new actions which can be added to the Plan over its three-year lifecycle.
The Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Regional and Rural Affairs which also acts as a forum to consider ideas to support economic and social progress in rural Ireland. The Cabinet Committee meets on a regular basis and is supported by a group of senior officials from relevant Government Departments.