Macra has welcomed the launch of the Action Plan for Rural Ireland, but warned it must be “fully resourced with a dedicated budget to ensure that the full potential of rural Ireland can be realised”.

Key actions of the plan, which was launched last week by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys, include supporting the creation of 135,000 jobs by 2020 by assisting indigenous businesses, investing €50m for collaborative approaches to job creation in the regions, and increasing Foreign Direct Investment by up to 40%.

A range of initiatives will also be implemented to rejuvenate more than 600 rural and regional towns, and the preparation for the rollout of high-speed broadband will also be fast-tracked.

Increasing capital funding for flood risk schemes up to €80m per annum by 2019 and increasing to €100m per annum by 2021, as well as improving job opportunities for young people by increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships available locally all form part of the initiative.

Speaking at the launch in Dublin, Macra na Feirme national president Seán Finan said Macra welcomes “any initiative which aids the development of rural Ireland and puts clear timelines on specific actions” which “set out how the development and huge potential which exists in rural communities can be harnessed”.

But he warned: “We have had rural plans developed before like the Commission for Economic Development in Rural Areas Report which have achieved little.

“This action plan needs to be full resourced with a dedicated budget to ensure that the full potential of rural Ireland can be realised.

“Rural Ireland, in spite of negative commentary by some, is very much alive with agricultural activity at its core.

“Sustainable rural development is necessary to ensure young people who want to live and work in rural areas can do so. After false dawns in the past, we need this plan to deliver for our young people so they can live, work and contribute to rural Ireland.”

He said that the organisation looks forward to engaging with plan ambassador Pat Spillane and the various ministers and departments involved.

As part of the launch, Ms Humphreys also announced details of a new website, which will act as a hub for information on services and supports for rural dwellers.


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