Continuing to support ongoing rural development and the agri-food sector is a priority for the Government, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
"We want to strengthen Ireland’s rural fabric and support the communities who live there by planning for the future growth and development of rural areas, with a special focus on the renewal and development of smaller towns and villages," he told a Project Ireland 2040-themed event held in Westport, Co Mayo on Friday.
“This Government has set ambitious targets for rural areas. We will help create an additional 135,000 jobs outside the Dublin region by 2020, and revitalise over 600 towns and villages.
"We will support more than 4,000 new community projects, double investment in flood relief works by 2021, and ensure that all homes and businesses are connected to high-speed broadband.
"I believe that Project Ireland 2040 will maximise rural Ireland’s potential for current and future generations.”
The Project Ireland 2040-themed event was based around the National Planning Framework Strategic Outcome of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities, which focuses on balancing regional growth and investment in rural regeneration.
A key commitment of Project Ireland 2040 is the provision of a new €1bn budget over the period 2019-2027 through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, which will provide investment to support rural renewal for suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas.
Creating stronger communities
The forum was co-hosted by the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Speaking at the event, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said “reaffirmed this Government’s commitment to rural Ireland and in particular to the continued development of the agri-food sector".
The Minister added that the agri-food sector remains Ireland's "most important indigenous industry and contributes €26bn to our economy and connects rural Ireland to the world".
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