I propose to take Questions Nos. 886 and 887 together.
Responsibility for overall Government transport policy and funding lies with my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.
This includes funding for the national road network and public transport services in rural areas.
Work being funded through Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan underlines the Government’s commitment to ensuring that people living in rural Ireland remain connected with their local communities and beyond, through investment in public transport and the road network.
My Department provides some funding for transport measures which help connect those in rural areas.
These include the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS), a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. I reintroduced the LIS in September 2017 and since then have allocated €48 million to the Scheme. Just under €580,000 of this funding has been approved for works to 20 roads in Kildare.
My Department also continues to provide funding for projects such as trails and blueways that may help connect rural towns and villages across the country under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
I have also provided €1.4 million under the CLÁR Programme for Supports for Mobility and Cancer Care Transport.
The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is currently open for applications and will consider applications for funding for the development of community or public facilities infrastructure including improvements to roads, bridges and car parking facilities but only in the context of wider rural regeneration projects.
Additionally, my Department is the coordinating Department in respect of the Action Plan for Rural Development. This all of Government Plan for rural Ireland contains a number of actions relating to improvements in transport services, the majority of which are delivered by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and agencies under their aegis.
We are now looking towards the next phase of rural development policy. We are currently consulting with stakeholders and interested parties around the country on the future policy and welcome all views on improving connectivity in rural Ireland as part of that process.