The Action Plan for Rural Development was published in January 2017 as a whole-of-Government initiative to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland. The three-year Action Plan concluded at the end of 2017.
One of the objectives of the Action Plan was to support enterprise growth and job creation in rural areas. The Plan's coordinated cross-Government approach contributed to increased employment in the regions and increased investment in projects and communities across the country.
Between 2015 and 2018, employment in the regions increased by over 146,000 outside of Dublin, surpassing the Government’s target of increasing employment outside of Dublin by 135,000 by 2020.
The enterprise development agencies continue to provide a strong focus on growing regional employment. 66% of new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland client companies in 2019 were outside the Dublin region, while 57% of IDA Ireland’s client company jobs have been created outside of the Dublin region.
A number of Government initiatives continue to contribute to supporting regional employment. The Regional Enterprise Plans, overseen by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, play a particularly important role in supporting job creation in the regions.
My own Department also contributes to job creation in rural areas through programmes such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and LEADER. The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will also support job creation in towns, villages and rural areas across Ireland to 2027.
My Department is currently developing the next phase of rural development policy, which will set out measures to support the economic and social needs of rural areas over the period 2020-2025, including policy actions to support employment in rural areas. As was the case with the Action Plan for Rural Development, the new policy will reflect a whole-of-Government commitment to rural Ireland.