Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Questions (147)

Bernard Durkan


147. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the restructuring of Comhairle na Tuaithe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23023/19]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

Comhairle na Tuaithe (the Countryside Council) was established as a non-statutory group in February 2004 to address the issues of:

- access to the countryside

- developing a countryside code, and

- developing a countryside recreation strategy.

While Comhairle has been successful in delivering on its original mandate, an independent review of Comhairle na Tuaithe was completed in 2016 which made a number of recommendations to improve the structures and operations of the group to achieve a more integrated and shared vision around countryside access and usage.

The review noted that countryside recreation has an increasingly important role as a mechanism for rural economic development, job creation, social interaction, education, and enhanced physical and mental health.

I met with Comhairle last year to hear directly from the members their views on the recommendations of the independent review. 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 outdoor recreation sector.

A meeting of Comhairle na Tuaithe has been scheduled for 6th June and I will outline my proposals on the future structure, operation and mandate of Comhairle na Tuaithe at that meeting.