Action 165 of the Action Plan for Rural Development commits to examining the potential to promote rural Ireland as the destination of choice for US colleges wishing to avail of a rural-based learning or study experience abroad.
The company referred to by the Deputy has considerable experience in delivering rural-based learning in Connemara and is in the process of developing a residential education centre in Tullycross. The former Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, along with an official, met with the company last month and they outlined their experience in this area, and discussed the potential for this model to work in other parts of rural Ireland.
The company has been involved in its own fund-raising efforts in relation to the centre in Tullycross. While the options for other avenues of funding were discussed with the company, there are no programmes under my Department’s remit that can provide support to a project of this nature.
Responsibility for the Action Plan for Rural Development will be transferring to the new Department which the Taoiseach has announced will hold the brief for rural development and community development.