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.
Progress reports on the implementation of the action plan are published twice yearly on the gov.ie website. The most recent, Fourth Progress Report, was published at the start of July. It shows that 268 of the 277 actions reported on were either completed on schedule or substantially advanced.
The cross-departmental approach of the action plan is benefiting rural areas in many ways. For example, since 2015, there has been an increase of more than 146,000 in the number of people employed in regions outside of Dublin, surpassing the Government's target of 135,000 extra jobs by 2020. Last year, more than 60% of the new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland client companies were outside the Dublin region and 58% of employment in IDA client companies is now based outside of Dublin.
The level of investment being made in rural Ireland is also unprecedented. Thousands of projects have been supported by my Department alone since the start of 2017, with further investment across Government also benefitting rural communities in areas such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism and transport.
The progress made under the action plan has been further built on in Project Ireland 2040, in particular through the rural regeneration and development fund, which will provide €1 billion in investment in rural Ireland over the period 2019 to 2027. To date, €86 million has been allocated from the fund to 84 projects. The action plan will continue to be delivered through to the end of this year. My Department is currently working on the next phase of a rural development policy to succeed the action plan. A number of consultation workshops have taken place around the country to obtain stakeholder input to the development of this policy. I have also invited the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development to provide an input on the new policy.