Minister Phelan stated “the provision of this stimulus funding will greatly assist this task and I am pleased that the Government is continuing to commit funds to encourage and facilitate the continued development of rural areas”. She also pointed out that this funding is part of a wider comprehensive framework to support economic development in rural areas, including major elements of the draft Rural Development Programme, the Seafood development Investment Programme and the wider enterprise, capability and community development initiatives operated by other bodies such as the Local Enterprise Offices, LEADER Local Development Companies, Educational Training Boards and tourism agencies. “My role, under CEDRA, is to capitalise on these resources and achieve a more coordinated and integrated approach to energising and developing rural areas”

Rural areas have been particularly hit by the economic downturn and the CEDRA report, which was published this year, contained 34 main recommendations to help support the medium term economic development of rural areas for the period to 2025. Minister of State Phelan has already established an Inter-Departmental Group (CEDRA IDG) to progress the implementation of this report, has assigned lead responsibility for all actions and following the last meeting, earlier this month, is finalising a CEDRA work programme to contain specific actions and timelines, up to end 2015.

In addition, Minister Phelan asked a sub-group of the CEDRA IDG to develop a number of priority proposals, with clear implementable actions, to assist the economic development of rural towns and their hinterlands. The intention is to pilot a small number of initiatives so as to assess their viability and effectiveness in creating employment in rural areas in the short to medium term. This group will report back to her in advance of the next CEDRA meeting in December.