There are a number of programmes within my Department's remit that may be able to provide assistance for the type of activity referred to by the Deputy.
Under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to support capital projects which seek to deliver key outcomes, amongst which are sustainable community and economic development in rural Ireland; the revitalisation and regeneration of towns and villages; the encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation; the development of key economic growth sectors such as tourism; improved community development and quality of life; the protection of the environment and our heritage assets; and the development of cultural life in rural areas.
In the first call and second call I have allocated significant funding to projects which aim to regenerate historic sites and buildings for education and tourism purposes. Some of these successful projects include:
- The major upgrade of the Emo Court Estate in County Laois is to create a “must-see” tourist attraction for the region which will benefit the nearby rural community which was allocated €1.2 million in the first call.
- The redevelopment of the Athy Heritage Centre (former Town Hall) to become the Ernest Shackleton Centre, leveraging tourism potential and benefiting the community which was allocated €2.7 million in the first call.
- This regeneration of existing library in Trim and the adjacent chapel to provide a multifunctional space that will include an extended library and a theatre. This project was allocated €3.7 million in the second call.
- The regeneration and restoration of two listed buildings and a derelict site in the centre of Ballinamore to provide a digital hub and co-working space, an artistic space for promotion of local arts and crafts and a youth facility. This project was allocated €1.7 million in the second call.
The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model, including the provision of a heritage or tourism facility. Funding is provided as a fixed annual contribution towards the cost of an agreed number of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions including a manager where appropriate. The CSP contribution must be co-funded by the organisation concerned from other sources, for example, from income received from the public use of their services and facilities. Some €46m is available to support community organisations under the programme in 2019.
The Town and Village Renewal Scheme has provided funding for projects in and around historic sites. Projects may cover a range of activities, from tourism initiatives, improving the public realm to make towns and villages more attractive to job-creation initiatives. On 31 October last I announced the 2019 scheme with an allocation of €15 million. Full particulars regarding the application process and scheme criteria have been provided to the Local Authorities who administer the scheme on behalf of my Department. The criteria for the award of funding for the 2020 scheme has not yet been decided.
The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure, and for the necessary maintenance, enhancement or promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in rural areas. I recently announced funding for 109 Measure 1 projects to the value of €1.8 million under ORIS 2019. I will shortly be making further announcements in relation to mid-sized and larger projects which have applied for funding under separate strands of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme
This type of project may also potentially be funded under the LEADER Rural Tourism sub-theme. The project promoter must submit an Expression of Interest to the Local Action Group in their area which details the proposed project activity in its entirety. If the activity is deemed eligible, the promoters will be invited to submit a full application to the relevant Local Action Group. Contact details for all Local Action Groups are available at gov.ie.