This week I attended the Rural Opportunities roadshow in Donegal run by my department, the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The roadshow has been run in all four provinces to promote growth and development in our rural communities.
I was joined by my fellow ministers Michael Ring and Joe McHugh.
During the event Minister Ring launched the latest round of the Rural Regeneration Fund which will provide €1 billion for rural Ireland over the next ten years.
I am urging all local authorities, agencies and community groups to apply for project funding.
The fund supports the development and implementation of capital projects for all towns, villages and communities with populations under 10,000.
The latest call for applications announced is for shovel-ready projects that can move ahead to immediate construction.
County Galway received €8.3 million for 2019.
The allocations included €3,544,000 for the development of the BIA Innovator project to establish Athenry as a food and tourist centre, €525,000 to Galway County Council for street widening works at Bridge Street, Dunmore and €175,000 to the council for the development of a master plan for Tuam. An allocation for the National Parks and Wildlife Service included €80,000 for the upgrading of Derrycrag Nature Trail, Woodford.
The fund is a huge opportunity for our communities to stimulate economic growth and improve our local environment.
Funding of at least €500,000 is available for shovel-ready projects under Category 1, while Category 2 funding is for the development and design of future projects.
The latest funding round is for Category 1, while a call for applications under Category 2 is expected to be made in October this year. I would urge all stakeholders to work together to ensure they take advantage of these opportunities.
The types of projects supported in the current call are:
· Measures to address infrastructural deficiencies that are instrumental to and part of town and village regeneration;
· Measures to address building vacancy in order to encourage town centre regeneration, including building refurbishment, redevelopment and/or demolition;
· Improving public amenity and public realm in towns and villages and the development of recreational facilities;
· Projects which deliver on multiple objectives, for example, delivering a town centre regeneration project which also contributes to economic, tourism, community or cultural development;
· Projects which take an integrated approach to developing employment opportunities within a town or its environs;
· Projects that support job creation, entrepreneurship and innovation;
· Development or expansion of tourism initiatives which generate new areas of economic activity and attract increased visitor numbers to rural areas.
Key policy priorities for the call include building the resilience of communities to face the challenges posed by Brexit outcomes and assisting in the transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy.
There is particular focus on regeneration projects which can address Government wide policy priorities, namely: Supporting communities to face the challenges posed by Brexit and assisting communities to transition to a competitive, low carbon and environmentally sustainable economy.
The Fund will be open to Local Authorities, Local Development Companies, State agencies, other Government Departments, philanthropic funders, the private sector and communities. The lead partner must be a State-funded body.
The closing date for the receipt of proposals is 12 noon on Tuesday, 6 August 2019.
Full details of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, along with the Application Form, are available on the Department of Rural and Community Development website, at