Substantial progress continues to be made in improving the quality of life in communities throughout Ireland, both rural and urban.
As the Minister with responsibility for rural and community development, it is my intention that the many supports available through my Department will continue to improve conditions in these communities into the future so that they are attractive places in which to invest and do business as well as to work and live.
My focus is to support the creation of vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities across the country. This can be achieved through the implementation of programmes and schemes that facilitate and encourage economic development and provide facilities that support communities to become and remain desirable places in which to live, work and raise families.
The rejuvenation of rural towns and villages is a priority for the Government. We are promoting a new narrative around rural Ireland, namely, that it is dynamic and can adapt to the changes taking place in our modern economy. Every day and in every town and village I visit, I see great examples of the ability of rural Ireland to adapt to economic and social changes in a positive fashion.
The Action Plan for Rural Development, the framework policy for local and community development in Ireland and Project Ireland 2040 are the key policy initiatives that set out all the ways in which Government aims to address disadvantage and how we can support both rural and urban communities across Ireland.
The action plan is co-ordinated and monitored by my Department and is the most comprehensive Government plan ever produced to support economic and social development in rural areas. The measures within it are being delivered across a range of Departments, State agencies and other organisations over the period to 2020.
As part of Project Ireland 2040, the rural regeneration and development fund will provide €1 billion up to 2027 to support the revitalisation of rural towns with a population of fewer than 10,000 people. The fund will be a key driver in supporting the renewal of rural Ireland.
Additionally, my Department continues to provide other direct supports to both urban and rural communities through a range of schemes and programmes, including the social inclusion and community activation programme, the Dublin north-east inner city initiative, the LEADER programme, the local improvement scheme, LIS, the community enhancement programme, the libraries capital investment programme, the CLÁR programme, the outdoor recreation infrastructure scheme and the town and village renewal scheme.