Tipperary Institute wins contract to establish National Rural Network

TIPPERARY Institute has been formally awarded the contract to establish a National Rural Network to assist the efficient and effective implementation of the Rural Development Programme.

The contract was agreed subject to Tipperary Institute forwarding an action plan by the end of this month for delivery of the network.

A steering committee to oversee the delivery of the network will consist of officials from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; the network provider; and other rural bodies.

The role of managing authority is assigned to the rural development division of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Independent TD Michael Lowry said the decision would make Tipperary Institute a key player in the Rural Development Programme (2007-2013).

More than €3 million would be awarded to the institute over the course of the contract.

Mr Lowry said the announcement was further confirmation that Tipperary Institute was an integral component of the country’s educational infrastructure.

“This contract will make the institute the centre of excellence in Ireland for rural development matters and comes as a welcome boost for the institute and the towns of Thurles and Clonmel,” he said.

A Rural Development Support Unit in the institute will analyse and present the indicators that will track the progress and impact of the rural development policy in Ireland and Europe.

Two government departments — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs — will work closely with the unit with the intention of optimising the effectiveness of the programme and its positive impact on agriculture and broader rural communities.

Mr Lowry said the project was not only a great monetary boost to the college, but also provided the institute with invaluable opportunities to network at national, state and EU level.

“Connectivity is vital in the academic world and this contract provides Tipperary Institute with ample opportunity to foster this,” he said.

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