As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established on 19th July 2017. Since then, I met with the members of Comhairle na Tuaithe on 13th February 2018, and Comhairle met on two further occasions, 16th May 2018 and 5th July 2018.
The group was also due to meet on the 16th October 2018. However, due to members' diary commitments, this meeting had to be postponed.
My meeting with Comhairle on 13th February was to hear directly from the members their views on the recommendations of the independent review of Comhairle and the Countryside Recreation Strategy which was finalised in March 2016. I also heard the members' views on the future direction of Comhairle and on the development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland generally. That meeting was very constructive in helping me to formulate proposals for the future development of the sector.
My officials presented initial proposals to the Comhairle members at the meeting of 16th May 2018 and, through my officials, I received detailed feedback from the members on those proposals. I have considered that feedback in the context of a wider focus on the development of the rural recreation sector and I will make a final decision regarding the future structure, operation and mandate of Comhairle na Tuaithe shortly.
I anticipate that my officials will arrange a further of meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe in the coming weeks to outline my decision.